Lakers thrash Duluth


Fort Frances was the hotspot in Canada on Tuesday, and the extra heat boost very well may have come from the first-place Lakers.
The glow from the red light behind the Duluth Clydesdales’ net was the culprit as the Lakers skated to a 7-1 thrashing of the expansion squad.
The score was the second-highest goal total for the team in its short history (set last Nov. 24 in a 9-6 win over Wisconsin), and also set the franchise record for largest margin of victory.
The game didn’t look like a walk in the first period, however, as the Lakers got off to another characteristic slow start.
The Clydesdales outshot the Lakers 11-8, forcing SIJHL player-of-the-week Tyler Ampe to make some stellar stops.
He first dove cross-crease to stun Matt Jerulle, then gloved a wrister by Duluth captain Tom Paine, who had been left alone in the slot.
Ampe wrapped up the period with a leg save on Matt Morsette.
Despite being outshot, Fort Frances netted the lone goal of the frame when defenceman Cody Hasbargen joined the rush, taking a puck down low and patiently waiting to deke out goalie Derek Robinson at 10:05.
The goal was Hasbargen’s first of the season.
The home crew, fortified by an efficient power play, began to roll towards the middle of the second period.
First, captain Tyler Stevenson banged in a goal with the man advantage at 8:55. The Lakers (5-3) then went right back to work with another power play.
Byron Katapaytuk lost his grip on the puck as he skated through the slot, but the rubber slid right to Jon Sinclair, who fired home his first of the campaign at 11:17.
Duluth (2-3-1) tried to make a game of it, pressuring Ampe into stopping Josh Wentz on a breakaway and Morsette with his blocker.
The visitors finally broke through when Andrew Doig corralled a puck and ripped a shot over Ampe’s glove at 15:40, halting the goalie’s shutout streak at 174:56 and bringing Duluth to within 3-1.
But Fort Frances didn’t let the tally faze them as Stevenson curled out from behind Duluth’s net and notched his 10th of the season past Robinson just 45 seconds later.
Then 37 seconds after that, Katapaytuk centered to Ryan Wildman, who notched his second goal to put the Lakers up 5-1.
In the third, Jordan Sinclair deflected a Phil Jennrich shot at the 10-minute mark for his first of the season before Jaret Leclair sniped the Lakers’ third power-play goal of the night exactly four minutes later to round out the scoring.
Ampe made 31 saves to win his third-straight start while Robinson had 23 for Duluth.
As well, Katapaytuk extended his points streak to seven games while Baldwin increased his to six.
Stevenson, meanwhile, boosted his goal-scoring streak to six games, and his 10 markers in eight games is almost halfway to the 21 he scored in 50 games last season.
The Lakers will fight to retain sole possession of first place tomorrow (Oct. 8) when the Fort William North Stars (4-1) visit the Ice For Kids Arena at 7:30 p.m.
The defending league champs will be looking to avenge a 3-2 opening night loss here back on Sept. 17.