Zach Ross broke a scoreless tie with 5:40 left in regulation time, while Bailey Schmitz turned aside all 34 shots he faced for his first shutout of the season, as the Thief River Falls Norskies won 3-0 last night to hand the visiting Fort Frances Lakers their sixth-straight loss.
It was a goalie’s duel throughout, with Schmitz and the Lakers’ Jacob Gnidziejko standing tall and keeping opposing shooters at bay.
Ross eventually broke the deadlock late into the third period as he netted the eventual game-winner, assisted by Bryce Johnson and Connor Bowey, to open the scoring.
The Lakers pulled Gnidziejko twice in an attempt to tie the game and force overtime, but Boe Bjorge and Mason McIntosh both scored empty-netters in the final minute to seal the victory.
Bjorge’s tally extended his point streak to 11 games while Brett Piper also dished out a pair of assists for the hosts.
Gnidziejko faced 22 shots in taking the loss.
The Lakers (9-14-0-0) are back in action tomorrow night when they visit the second-place Red Lake Miners (17-4-1-0) at the Cochenour Arena.
Then they’ll host those same Miners the following night at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena here.
The loss, coupled with the Dryden GM Ice Dogs’ 6-1 win over the Minnesota Iron Rangers last night, Dryden (8-10-2-1) moved ahead of the Lakers by one point for fourth place in the SIJHL standings.
The Thunder Bay North Stars still lead the league with a 19-1-0-0 record for 39 points and are red-hot, having won nine-straight games.
The Norskies (12-7-3-1) occupy third spot while the Iron Rangers (2-22-0-0) remain mired in the basement.