Lakers’ troubles continue


The Fort Frances Lakers are playing better hockey as of late—just not winning hockey.
Just one point out of a possible four went the way of the Lakers on the weekend, starting with a 4-3 shootout loss against the host Thunder Bay North Stars on Friday night.
Then they were doubled 4-2 by the Dryden GM Ice Dogs on Saturday at the Ice For Kids Arena.
“We played a pretty decent hockey game [Saturday] considering we didn’t get home [from Thunder Bay] until 4 a.m.,” noted Lakers’ head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan.
“I don’t think we can be too disappointed.”
The Lakers (2-7-1-2) now have lost three-straight games in three different ways (overtime, shootout, and in regulation time).
Dryden (8-2-1) outshot the Lakers 35-22, including a 16-5 advantage in the second period.
But they needed a power-play goal from Cory Dennis at 9:41 of the third, and an empty-netter by Nic Noseworthy with 46 seconds left, to finally subdue the Lakers.
Tristan Knott and Derek McPhail (power play) also scored for the Ice Dogs, who have won two-straight, while Patrick Zubick made 20 saves for the win.
Matt Tustin and Tyler Malpass replied for the Lakers, with Brandon Bodnar stopping 31 shots in defeat.
Meanwhile, the shootout loss Friday night was a double disaster for the Lakers, who couldn’t hold onto 2-0 and 3-1 leads against the first-place North Stars (10-4-1).
Fort Frances lost in the fourth round on Brett Wolframe’s goal after the first seven shooters had been blanked by Bodnar and Nathaniel Dupuis.
Even worse, the Lakers also lost leading scorer Jared Virtanen (15 points) for at least the next two weeks after he separated his shoulder getting tangled up with Dupuis and then falling awkwardly during his shootout try.
Virtanen scored in regulation for the Lakers to go along with Julian Uhryniuk’s first two-goal outing of the season.
Bodnar had 34 saves through regulation and overtime.
Former Laker Aaron Wesley-Chisel, Jett Leishman, and Justin Muir tallied in regulation for Thunder Bay, which also is on a two-game winning streak.
Besides Virtanen, the Lakers’ expansive injured list includes forwards Nathan Washington and Jaden Gustafson, along with defencemen Jun Yi (Frank) Zhong, Matt Bruinsma, and Bryce Patterson.
The Lakers and Ice Dogs will meet again here tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.