It was a great weekend for the Fort Frances Lakers as the squad picked up three of a possible four points in a home-and-home split with the Thief River Falls Norksies.
Tyler Johnson scored the lone goal of the shootout as the Norskies pulled out a narrow 5-4 decision over the Lakers in the opener on Friday at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
A free-wheeling first frame saw the two teams combine for five goals, including three by Fort Frances.
After Peyton Hughes gave the Lakers an early lead, Jack Michels bagged his 25th of the campaign for the Norskies (23-18-3) at 10:37 to knot it at 1-1.
Answering quickly, Kyle Uzelman put the visitors back on top only to see Michels strike once more as his second of the night levelled the game yet again.
The Lakers answered that in the final minute of the opening frame when Ethan Carlson-Jourdain picked up his sixth of the year to make it 3-2.
The see-saw affair continued into the second as Justin Schwartzmiller (power play) connected for the Norskies while Flynn Perry chipped in with an even-strength effort to put the Lakers (15-22-3-1) up 4-3 after 40 minutes.
Special teams then helped Thief River Falls force overtime 6:24 into the third as Nick Harder provided the equalizer while up a skater.
After a scoreless overtime, extra shots were needed to determine a winner and there, Johnson was the only one to connect to help give his team the additional point on the night.
Seth Purcilly made 32 stops to earn the win for the Norskies while Alex Bugeja’s 45 saves helped the Lakers get one point in the narrow setback.
The following night, Carlson-Jourdain’s goal 24 seconds into the third period proved to be the game-winner as the Lakers edged the Norskies 2-1 in the finale at the Ice For Kids Arena.
Thief River Falls opened the scoring in this one late in the first frame on a Johnson effort.
But Lakers battled back to knot the affair at 1-1 after 40 minutes thanks to Kyle Uzelman, who was set-up by captain Noah Loveday and Keirnan Bailey at 12:54 of the second.
Fort Frances then found the difference-maker early in the third thanks to Carlson-Jourdain’s second deciding goal of the season.
Dean Buchholz made 32 saves to record the win while Joshua Seeley turned aside 33 stops in taking the loss for the Norskies.
The last-place Lakers will resume action tomorrow night when they hit the road to take on the second-place Red Lake Miners (27-12-3-2) at the Cochenour Arena.
Fort Frances will then host those same Miners on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.
In other team news, the SIJHL announced today that Uzelman has been named its Play It Again Sports Player of the Week for the period ending Feb. 9.
In four games last week, the 20-year-old Sherwood Park, AB native collected points in each of them helping Fort Frances go 2-1-0-1 during the time frame.
This included Uzelman scoring in three of those outings while also dishing out a pair of assists, featuring one on the game-winner, versus his former club, the Miners, at the SIJHL’s “Showcase” in Spooner, Wis.
Playing at a point-per-game pace with the Lakers, and over that in his league career, he sits just nine shy of 100 with 34 goals and 57 helpers to his credit in 86 games.
Also earning consideration for player of the week honours were Cody Bruchkowski, (forward) Thunder Bay North Stars; Bryce Krauter, (forward) Red Lake Miners; Justin Schwartzmiller, (forward) Thief River Falls Norskies; Austin Cardinal, (forward) Wisconsin Lumberjacks and Justin Pitari, (forward) Dryden GM Ice Dogs.