The Fort Frances Lakers’ play at the SIJHL “Showcase” weekend certainly turned out to be worth displaying.
The Lakers swept both of their matinees in Spooner, Wis., edging the Duluth Clydesdales 1-0 on Friday and then beating the Fort William North Stars 3-1 on Saturday.
With the wins, combined with three North Star losses over the weekend, the Lakers (9-5-0) pulled even with Fort William (9-4-0), which still holds a game in hand early in the season.
The expansion Wisconsin Wilderness (8-2-1) sit just a point back with three games in hand on the Lakers.
The Lakers continued to own the expansion Clydesdales, beating them for the third-straight time.
Only six penalties were called in the relatively low-key affair, although four went against the Lakers, including a 27-second 5-on-3 midway though the second
Jordan Sinclair eventually tallied the lone goal of the game with 2:40 to go, getting the puck past Duluth goalie Jeff Dunaisky.
Seeing as how Sinclair’s second goal of the season came even-strength, the Lakers’ streak of 10-straight games with a power-play goal was snapped.
Lakers’ goalie Jameson Shortreed stopped all 22 shots he faced to record his first shutout of the season while Dunaisky made 26 saves.
Then Saturday’s game saw the Lakers in a familiar spot when on the road—down one in the first period.
Dan Usiski scored to give Fort William the 1-0 lead at 15:54.
But Jaret Leclair netted his fourth of the year, equalling his total from last season, to tie the game at 12:19 of the second.
Henry Gutierrez notched his fourth of the season past Jay Pelletier just 23 seconds into the third—and it proved to be the game-winner.
Tyler Stevenson later got the Lakers started on a new power-play streak, notching his league-leading 14th at 3:13 to give Fort Frances some insurance.
Speaking of special-teams streaks, the Lakers extended their run of perfect penalty killing to 11-straight games, denying Fort William’s three chances.
Tyler Ampe made 25 saves for the Lakers while Pelletier turned aside 34 shots for Fort William.
The Lakers now return home to battle the Dryden Ice Dogs tomorrow (Oct. 26) at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.
The team also is holding a “winter coat toss” in conjunction with the annual drive sponsored by the Associates of St. Marguerite d’Youville.
Fans will be encouraged to toss coats, mittens, winter hats, and boots, which are clean and in good condition, onto the ice after the Lakers score their first goal.
Sponsors of the event are hoping history doesn’t repeat itself as the Ice Dogs handed the Lakers their only shutout of the season so far (1-0 back on Sept. 21).
But Fort Frances has won the two other meetings by scores of 3-2 and 5-2.