The Fort Frances Lakers are scoring lots of goals but would like to see a lot less of the injury bug.
The line of Bryce Lipinski, Kevin Kurm, and Donovan Cousineau combined for eight points as the Lakers won their final road game of the regular season with a 7-2 victory over the Wisconsin Wilderness last night.
“I thought we played a pretty good 60 minutes,” said Lakers’ head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan.
“The first 10 minutes of the game was intense by both teams,” he noted.
“They were in our face but we continued to push the pace and create scoring chances and, eventually, taking full control of the period.
“The second just brought more of that,” Strachan added.
“Our pressure, speed, and play-making was pretty to watch.”
But the victory was tempered by the loss of two more Lakers as defenceman Aaron Wesley-Chisel and forward Hunter Leishman left the game with undisclosed injuries.
They were to be re-evaluated today.
The pair join forwards Colton Spicer and Patrick Sofer, both out with shoulder injuries, and defenceman John Dora (head) on the injured list—an item which the Lakers certainly want to see grow shorter with the playoffs only one game away.
The Lakers (45-6-2-2) outshot Wisconsin (5-49) by a huge 60-29 margin and jumped out to a 5-0 lead by 11:20 of the second.
That sent Wilderness starter Griffin Strain to the bench after 30 saves in favour of Zann Anderson, who made 23 stops in relief.
Lipinski had two goals to reach 23 for the season and added an assist while Kurm netted his 23rd of the year and collected two helpers.
Cousineau pitched in with two assists.
Brent Aiken (12th), Lucas DeBenedet (league-high 47th), and Mason Meyer (40th) also tallied for the Lakers, who now have won eight-straight and 12 of their last 13 outings.
Nick Eytcheson scored both goals for the Wilderness.
Devin Tappenden earned the win with 27 saves.
He’s now on a 10-game winning streak after starting out 1-3 after joining the Lakers in January.
In related news, Cody Wickstrom, who was named the Pizza Hut player-of-the-week after recording six assists in the Lakers’ three games last week.
Wickstrom missed the first 13 games of the season while dealing with ulcerative colitis. But he’s rebounded to be one of the team’s steadiest performers behind the blueline.
“I think in the last month or so, he has been as good as anyone on our team, leading and playing well in both ends of the rink,” lauded Strachan.
“It’s definitely a good story and shows the character of Cody.”
The Lakers will wrap up the regular season by hosting Wisconsin this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.
After that, a two-game, total-goal series to decide seeding for the playoffs will take place between Fort Frances and the second-place Thunder Bay North Stars (38-10-1-4).
The schedule has yet to be announced.