Lakers split SIJHL’s annual ‘Showcase’ games


The Fort Frances Lakers were finally able to put a lengthy skid behind them as they earned a split in their games at the SIJHL’s annual “Showcase” hosted by the Wisconsin Lumberjacks at the Spooner Civic Centre on Tuesday and yesterday.

Fort Frances saw its losing streak hit eight games with a 6-2 setback to the league-leading Thunder Bay North Stars in the opener on Tuesday afternoon but rebounded in a big way yesterday afternoon with a 4-2 win over the Red Lake Miners.

Cody Bruchkowski continued his impressive goal-scoring prowess by tacking on three more and adding an assist to pace the North Stars to victory over the Lakers on Tuesday.

Thunder Bay (28-12-3) opened the scoring while short-handed near the midway point of the first period that resulted in Bruchkowski tallying for a fifth straight outing as he connected with a low shot from the slot.

He then buried his second of the stanza as he snapped in a power-play marker from the left side at 12:50.

Down a skater once again, the North Stars got another as Hunter Foreshew forced a turnover near his own blue line, then darted down the ice, cut in, and put a shot into the top right hand corner to give his side a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes with an unassisted effort.

The Lakers (14-22-3) finally got on the board seven-and-a-half minutes into second as they clicked with the man advantage that saw Kyle Uzelman rip one upstairs from the left face-off circle to trim it to 3-1.

However, Thunder Bay came right back to restore their three-goal cushion off a face-off that was finished off by Jacob Brown from the high slot at 9:17.

Then in the third, the Lakers pulled back to within two goals early as Reece Hopfner scored from a sharp angle to make it a 4-2 game.

Answering once more, the North Stars’ Adam Morgan added one before Bruchkowski finished off his hat trick by picking the bottom left-hand corner from the right wing in the late going to round out the scoring.

Thunder Bay out shot Fort Frances 40-37 with Dylan Kosik getting the win over his former club while Dean Buchholz suffered the loss.

It was a much different story for the Lakers yesterday afternoon, though, as used a three-goal rally in the third period to stun the Miners in the “Showcase” finale.

Fort Frances opened the scoring five minutes into the first off a face-off win that was finished off by a high-rising attempt from the left point by Lakers’ defenceman Matt Dyck.

The second-place Miners (25-12-3-2) came back to tie it later in the frame when Bryce Krauter sent Ryan Howe in alone on a breakaway where the rookie forward made no mistake to knot it at 1-1 after 20 minutes.

Howe then added the lone marker of the middle frame as he finished off a Krauter feed on a 2-on-1 break at 6:57.

But Fort Frances roared back in the third, beginning with a Peyton Hughes blast from the slot as he registered his first career SIJHL goal just past the seven-minute mark.

Continuing to press, the Lakers got the eventual game-winner from blueliner Kiernan Bailey as he put one high through a crowd into the top right hand corner near the midway point of the session.

The Lakers then capped off the victory courtesy of Tyler Malpass in the back half of the period.

Kyle Uzelman had a pair of assists in the triumph for the Fort while Krauter dished out two helpers in a losing cause for the Miners.

Shots on net finished 34-20 in the Lakers’ favour, with Alex Bugeja getting the win and Zach Willms taking the loss.

The last-place Lakers will resume action tomorrow night when they open a home-and-home series against the third-place Thief River Falls Norskies (22-17-3) at the Ralph Engelstad Arena.

The Lakers then will host the finale on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.