In a polar opposite to their performances in losses to the Sioux Lookout Flyers and the Dryden Ice Dogs the previous weekend, the Fort Frances Lakers got back on track at the Fort William Gardens on Friday and Saturday night, sweeping the Thunder Bay North Stars 5-2 and 6-3.
Heading into those games, the North Stars had been closing in rapidly on the Lakers in the race for second place in the SIJHL standings, with only seven points separating the two squads prior to Friday’s tilt.
However, thanks to the Lakers’ triumphs, that gap has widened to 11 points while the Lakers (21-8-4 record) sit nine points behind the league-leading Wisconsin Wilderness.
The Lakers used a 34-save performance from goalie Tyler Ampe to their advantage in Friday night’s win while Jaret Leclair led the way offensively with a goal and two assists.
Henry Gutierrez added a goal and an assist while Bryan Broders, Jordan Christianson, and Adam Wensley also tallied.
Quinn Rempel led the North Stars with a goal and an assist.
Saturday’s game saw the teams tied at 2-2 midway through. But thanks to goals by Ryan Wildman and a shorthanded marker from Broders, the visitors gradually pulled away.
Broders, making his first appearances in the Lakers’ lineup after being acquired in a trade from Sioux Lookout earlier this month, netted a pair of goals in Saturday’s triumph.
Byron Katapaytuk was the team’s top point-getter with three assists.
Wildman and Christianson both had a goal and assist each while Gutierrez and Brandon Fehd added singles.
For the second-straight night, Ampe was strong between the pipes, making 28 saves and earning the game’s second star honours.
Joshua Blacksmith and Kyle Lapenski both had two-point efforts for the North Stars, who saw their record drop to 16-10-5.
The Lakers now will look to keep their winning ways going tonight (Dec. 19) at the Ice For Kids Arena, where they’ll take on the 4-21-1 Iron Range Ironheads at 7:30 p.m. in what will be their final game before Christmas.
The Lakers also will be looking to end a three-game losing streak on home ice.
Their last victory in front of the hometown fans was Nov. 26 against the Duluth Clydesdales.