It hasn’t been a lack of effort for the Fort Frances Lakers lately, rather just a lack of execution.
That came to the forefront again in a pair of weekend home losses that extended the squad’s losing streak to seven games to conclude the regular season.
Alec Daman scored 1:19 into overtime to lift the Thief River Falls Norskies to a 2-1 triumph Saturday night at the Ice For Kids Arena in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Tate Steffan opened the scoring for the visitors midway through the first period when he coasted up the right wing and snapped a shot past Lakers’ goalie Ismael Ralsten.
Nick Lucas evened it when he fired a shot top-shelf past Jackson Nelson on a power play at 5:42 of the third.
There was nearly a half-hour delay midway through the frame to replace a broken pane of glass.
Once action resumed, the game remained level through the rest of regulation time.
Daman then sent the visitors to victory early into the extra frame as he skated in on a partial breakaway and slid the winner between the legs of Ralsten.
Nelson made 34 saves to earn the win while Ralsten finished with 35 stops in taking the loss.
The inability to hold onto leads cost the Lakers here Friday night.
Eric Stout had a goal and an assist in regulation time, then notched the lone tally in the shootout, as the Dryden GM Ice Dogs rallied for a 4-3 victory.
The Lakers held the lead three separate times but couldn’t fend off the Ice Dogs’ attack.
With the win, coupled by Thief River Falls’ loss in Thunder Bay, Dryden secured first place overall in the standings and will be the No. 1 seed for the playoffs.
Lakers’ forward Jack Bernie had a big night, scoring all three of his team’s goals en route to his first SIJHL hat trick.
Adam Withers assisted on all three of Bernie’s markers.
Fort Frances took a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes on Bernie’s first of the night before Stout tied it on a power play 3:43 into the second.
After Bernie put the Lakers back on top, Jacen Bracko netted his league-leading 48th goal of the season during a man advantage to knot the score at 2-2.
Bernie then completed his hat trick to give the Lakers the lead for a third time–only to see Malcolm Huemmert force overtime with 9:24 to go.
After the extra frame solved nothing, Stout snapped a low shot through the legs of Ralsten in the shootout.
Landon Pavlisin picked up the win by making 23 saves while Ralsten turned aside 44 shots in suffering the loss.
The fifth-place Lakers (15-32-3-6) open their first-round quarter-final playoff series against the fourth-place English River Miners (28-23-1-4) this Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Cochenour Arena.
Game 2 goes there Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Game 3 is set for Saturday (March 24) at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena, with Game 4 (if necessary) on Monday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m. here
Should the series end up going the distance, Game 5 is slated for Wednesday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m. back at the Cochenour Arena.