Lakers tame ’Dogs

Joey Payeur

Mason Meyer knew he was going to have a tough time repeating his most recent achievement, but he gave it his best shot.
The Fort Frances Lakers’ forward and reigning Pizza Hut Player-of-the-Week had a goal and two assists last night to lead the Lakers (41-6-2-2) to a 4-2 victory over the Dryden Ice Dogs (19-27-5) at the Couchiching Arena.
“The last few games our line’s been clicking well,” noted Meyer, who now has 14 points in his last seven games.
“We’re putting the puck in the back of the net.”
Meyer set up the game-winner on the power play at 1:56 of the third after the Ice Dogs had rallied from a 2-0 first-period deficit.
Lucas DeBenedet corralled the puck at the Dryden blueline to set up an instant 2-on-1 with Meyer—feeding his winger before receiving the puck back and tapping in his league-leading 44th goal of the season.
Meyer then closed out the scoring by sliding home an empty-netter with 3.9 seconds left for his 37th of the year.
“We came out all right,” said Lakers’ head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan, who team extended its current winning streak to four games.
“But I thought in the latter half of the first, we quit skating and moving the puck and had a few defensive breakdowns, and that carried over into the second,” he noted.
“In the third, we were able to capitalize on a power-play situation to get a big two points.”
“We’ve got to keep our intensity where it is,” noted Lakers’ defenceman Riley Daly.
“You can’t take anyone lightly in this league,” he stressed. “They can surprise you at any time.”
Cam Jackson (power play) and Bryce Lipinski gave the Lakers a 2-0 lead in front of a jam-packed crowd on hand for the second of two games scheduled at “The Duke” this season.
Dryden drew even in the middle frame on tallies by Dane Feeney and Cody Kaus.
Devin Tappenden had 16 saves to earn the win while Joakim Jutras made 33 in a losing effort.
The Ice Dogs beat the Lakers in a shootout in their first meeting, but then lost the final 10 games of the season series.
In related news, the Lakers moved up a spot to No. 5 in the latest Canadian Junior ‘A’ Hockey League top 20 rankings.
The squad won all three of its games last week to reach the 40-win mark and moved past the formerly top-ranked Fort McMurray Oil Barons of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, who dropped two spots to No. 6.
The Soo Thunderbirds (Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League) retained their spot at No. 1 despite having their 25-game winning streak come to an end Sunday against the 13th-ranked Kirkland Lake Gold Miners.
The Carleton Place Canadians (Central Canadian Hockey League) jumped from No. 5 to No. 2 while the Selkirk Steelers (Manitoba Junior Hockey League) bumped up one spot to No. 3.
The Spruce Grove Saints of the AJHL, meanwhile, dropped from No. 2 to No. 4.
The Lakers don’t see action again until Tuesday (Feb. 25), when the Wisconsin Wilderness visit for a 7:30 p.m. match-up at the Ice For Kids Arena.