Lakers split trip south of border

Joey Payeur

Come on, baby, finish what you started.
Van Halen sang it and yesterday Jace Baldwin lived it by scoring the Fort Frances Lakers’ first goal of the game and then its last to clinch a 5-4 shootout victory over the first-place Wisconsin Wilderness.
Baldwin’s breakaway beauty, followed by Tyler Ampe’s save on Wilson Housley, gave Fort Frances a 2-1 decision in the shootout and sealed the comeback triumph for the second-place Lakers (27-13-3), who moved to within five points of the SIJHL leaders.
The game also signalled the end of both a nine-game home winning streak and a nine-game overall winning streak for the Wilderness (29-6-4).
Coming off an upset 2-1 loss in Duluth on Saturday night, the Lakers trailed 3-1 near the midway point of the second period yesterday in Superior before roaring back with three-straight goals to grab a 4-3 lead—only to have Wisconsin’s Keith Tessin tie the score on the power play with 3:06 left in regulation.
A scoreless overtime led to the shootout, with Byron Katapaytuk missing his chance for the Lakers and Austin Adduono of the Wilderness converting his.
Tyler Stevenson put the Lakers back on even ground, with Ampe then turning away Tessin.
After Matt Caulfield and Tom Paine both were denied in Round 3, Baldwin and Ampe each got the job done to give the Lakers their fourth win in six tries against Wisconsin so far this season.
Baldwin’s 16th goal of the season in the first period was accompanied by Zach McCool’s fourth, Dane Morin’s sixth (and first as a Laker), and Dan Smith’s 11th.
Also scoring for the Wilderness were Adduono, Paine, and Lucas Hendrickson.
Ampe made 47 saves through regulation and overtime to earn the victory in goal and improve his record to 18-9-1.
Wisconsin’s John McLean saw his winning aspirations die hard, dropping to 19-4-1-2 despite a 40-save effort.
Yesterday’s victory salvaged what could have been a disappointing weekend for the Lakers, who were upset 2-1 Saturday night in Duluth by the last-place Clydesdales (10-30-2).
Matt Jerulle set up Aaron Dusek’s second-period marker, then notched the game-winner at 15:32 of the third to help Duluth snap a six-game losing streak and give the Clydesdales only their second win in 10 games against the Lakers this season.
Jaret LeClair connected for his 13th of the year with 44 seconds left in the game and Ampe on the bench for an extra attacker.
But the Lakers came up short, despite another good outing by Ampe (31 saves).
Jeff Dunaisky was sharp for Duluth, meanwhile, stopping 28 of 29 shots directed his way.
The Lakers, which ended its four-game road trip with a 2-2 record, will be back in the friendly surroundings of the Ice For Kids Arena tomorrow when the fifth-place Sioux Lookout Flyers pay a visit.
The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.