Lakers upend ’Dogs

Lucas Punkari

There’s no place like home.
The Fort Frances Lakers can attest to that after beating the Dryden Ice Dogs 5-3 on Tuesday night for their fifth-straight win in the friendly confines of the Ice For Kids Arena.
Leading 2-0 after 40 minutes, the Lakers were forced to go on the penalty kill seven times in the final frame but were able to hold on thanks, in large part, to a pair of goals during four-on-four situations.
“The biggest thing we talked about before the third period was discipline, and I’m not sure if the guys didn’t hear me or what happened,” remarked Lakers’ head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan.
“There were a lot of undisciplined penalties that allowed them [Dryden] to get back into the game,” he stressed.
“And if it wasn’t for the hard work by some of our players offensively, we might been in some trouble there in the third period.”
Despite those late blemishes, Strachan was pleased with how his team played in the first and second periods.
“I thought that we carried the play during the first two periods as we had a lot of scoring chances,” he noted.
“Their goalie [Brett Timmerman] played really well and some of our guys continue to be snake-bitten in front of the net.
“But we were still able to get the lead early by driving to the net, and that really got us going,” Strachan added.
Fort Frances native Jordan Larson once again led the Lakers offensively Tuesday night, netting a pair of goals and adding two assists, allowing the first-year forward to increase his league-leading scoring total to 27 points in 12 games.
Connor Hady, Dane Morin, and Colton Spicer also scored for the hosts while Tyler Ampe made 24 saves to earn his eighth victory of the season.
Len Pelletier, Thomas Greene, and Josh Reid replied for the Ice Dogs, with forward Ryan Lobreau and defenceman Tom Kuhn chipping in a pair of assists each.
“I’m not disappointed in the effort,” Ice Dogs’ head coach Joe West said. “It’s just the fact that we work so hard to score our goals and then we give up easier goals than what we score that is really frustrating.
“If we are going to pick up our game going forward, we need to play better on defence so that we are not giving up so many easy goals,” he reasoned.
With the win, the Lakers (9-2-1) jumped into first place in the SIJHL with 19 points—one up on the second-place Wisconsin Wilderness going into a game they had last night in Thunder Bay.
The Lakers and Ice Dogs, meanwhile, will clash again tonight in Dryden, where Strachan is hoping to see a few things shored up and improved upon from Tuesday’s contest.
“Before our game, we will have to discuss our defensive zone play and our penalty killing as they got three goals on the power play,” he noted.
“That, of course, goes hand-in-hand with the discipline issues that we had, so those will be the three areas of improvement that I would like to see going into Thursday’s game.”