Maybe the Fort Frances Lakers have the SIJHL figured out after all: notch a pair of goals early in the first and then hold onto goalie Jameson Shortreed for dear life.
At the very least, it worked against the league-leading Fort William North Stars at the Ice For Kids Arena on Friday night.
The Lakers eked out a narrow 2-1 victory to hand the North Stars just their second loss of the season.
Fort Frances, last in the five-team league at 7-19-4, jumped on Fort William (28-2-0) early when Byron Katapaytuk wired a snapper past Jayme Brattengeier just 4:09 into the game.
Katapaytuk’s fifth of the season came on the power play with Adam Restoule in the “sin bin” for high-sticking.
The Lakers then made it 2-0 just 40 seconds later when Tyler Stevenson took a feed, crashed towards the North Stars’ net, and turned Brattengeier into a pylon.
Fort Frances tried to net a third before the period was out.
After the North Stars had been called for the first of two infractions for having too many men on the ice, the Lakers staged an impressive power play—highlighted by Jordan Carne’s open-cage attempt that was denied by Brattengeier.
From there, though, it was the Jameson Shortreed show.
The youngest Laker made a number of eye-popping saves on some of the league’s top guns to help preserve the win.
The highlight may have been a play where North Stars’ forward Olivier Morin undressed defender Cody Hasbargen and then Shortreed. But the goalie recovered, reached back with his stick, and kept the Stars off the board.
Shortreed was kept busy as Fort William outshot the Lakers 10-7 in the first, then piled on for an almost-unfair 20-4 margin in the second and 18-8 in the third.
It wasn’t until late in the final frame that Fort William solved the Emo-born net minder.
Just nine seconds into a slashing minor against Mike Jourdain, North Stars’ assistant captain and Devlin native Jordan Davis barrelled his way towards the Laker net, where the puck hit a skate and skipped up just enough over the leg of Shortreed.
The North Stars had life but the home squad withstood the frantic Fort William pressure for just long enough to help Shortreed earn his fifth win of the season.
The victory snapped a five-game losing streak for the Lakers while the North Stars had their 22-game winning streak came to an end.
Colton Kennedy, Fort Frances’ leading scorer, assisted on both goals to run his point total to 45—good for third in the SIJHL—and helped Kennedy run his point streak to four games.
Stevenson also is on a four-game point streak while Katapaytuk has notched at least a point in five-consecutive games.
The Lakers now have two weeks off for the Christmas break, with their next action coming Jan. 2 at Fort William.
Fort Frances’ first home game after the layoff is Jan. 14 against the K&A Wolverines (Thunder Bay).