Lakers split home games


It was a tale of two very different games for the Fort Frances Lakers over the weekend here.
The squad rolled to a 8-1 rout of the visiting Minnesota Iron Rangers on Friday night but then fell 5-2 to the Thief River Falls Norskies the following night at the Ice For Kids Arena.
It was all Norskies in the opening 20 minutes Saturday as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead.
Alec Severson opened the scoring on a man advantage 13:04 into the first period when the buried the rebound of Jake Eischen’s point blast.
Brett Piper then struck with back-to-back tallies less than three minutes apart to put the visitors up by three.
Tyler Johnson staked the visitors’ to a commanding four-goal cushion just 35 seconds into the second when he burst down the ice on a short-handed breakaway before sniping one past Lakers’ goalie Jacob Gnidziejko.
Isaac Baron finally got the Lakers on the board at 5:11 when he took Brett Hahkala’s pass from the corner and snapped it by Norskies’ goalie Bailey Schmitz to trim it to 4-1.
But Piper completed his hat trick at 11:46 after the Lakers had turned the puck over in the neutral zone.
Blake Nelson skated the puck up the ice before dishing it off to Piper, who made no mistake in firing it past Gnidziejko to make it 5-1.
Hahkala got one back for the Lakers late in the third during a two-man advantage but that’s as close as the hosts would get.
Schmitz made 23 saves to earn the win while Jacob Gnidziejko faced 33 attempts in taking the loss.
On Friday night, Nick Hahkala’s first SIJHL hat trick helped pace the Lakers to a convincing win over the last-place Iron Rangers.
After some good work in front of the Iron Rangers’ net by Jakob Ruck and Kendyn Faragher, Hahkala opened the scoring 12:47 into the first period when he buried the loose puck.
Baron doubled the lead 3:42 into the second period when he burst down the ice and snapped one “five hole” through Iron Rangers’ goalie Nick Corneliusen.
Hahkala then tallied back-to-back markers before the frame hit the 10-minute mark to make it 4-0 after 40 minutes.
Hahkala’s brother, Brett, then found some room before snapping a shot five-hole to stake the Lakers to a commanding 5-0 lead 3:28 into the third.
Then after Nick Hahkala completed his hat trick, Garrett Wojcicki took advantage of some sloppy Lakers’ coverage in front of their own net before firing it past Gnidziejko to trim it to 6-1.
Gnidziejko was replaced in net shortly after by affiliate goalie Jag Arena, who played the final 9:46 of regulation.
Kirk Coppock then was Johnny-on-the-spot as he chipped the rebound of Jaedin Ness’ shot over Corneliusen’s pad at 10:14 before Ness capped the scoring after deflecting a pass home less than a minute later.
Gnidziejko stopped 13 of the 14 shots he faced to record the win while Arena handled all six attempts he saw in his short SIJHL debut.
Corneliusen made 43 stops in a losing cause.
The fifth-place Lakers (12-20-1-1) resume action this Wednesday on the road against the third-place Norskies (19-12-3-1).
Then they’ll cap the week with a home-and-home series against the fourth-place Dryden GM Ice Dogs (17-13-3-1).
Fort Frances will welcome the Ice Dogs on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena before the Ice Dogs play host the following night.