North Stars stun Lakers


Seven minutes that were far from heavenly led to six minutes that were downright hellish for the Fort Frances Lakers.
Leading 2-1 in the second period of Friday night’s eventual 4-2 loss to the visiting Fort William North Stars, the Lakers were handed a golden opportunity to seize control of the game.
After jawing with Lakers’ forward Jace Baldwin, Fort William defenceman Taylor Desserre jumped Baldwin from behind—earning a fighting major, as well as instigator and aggressor minors.
Baldwin was slapped with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for his role in the skirmish but after that had expired, the home side had seven minutes of uninterrupted man-advantage.
It should have been a boon—given both Laker goals had come on the power play—but Fort Frances often was sloppy and unable to generate much pressure.
The score remained 2-1 through a five-on-three North Stars’ advantage midway through the third period as the visitors failed to convert.
Fort Frances even had glorious opportunities to score short-handed as Henry Gutierrez took a feed fresh out of the box, but couldn’t beat Fort William goalie Jay Pelletier.
Moments later, Jon Sinclair was afforded a similar one-on-one opportunity but he, too, could not hit the twine.
Those missed opportunities loomed large in the face of a trio of Laker defensive breakdowns late in the game.
With 6:01 to go, Corey Hamel intercepted a Lakers’ clearing pass and charged up the middle. Although his shot was stopped by Tyler Ampe, Spencer Hogan’s rebound was not.
Hogan struck again 2:47 later to give Fort William the lead, picking off another clearing pass, then depositing a slapper over Ampe’s right shoulder.
With the Lakers reeling a little bit, Dan Usiski punched in some insurance, taking a feed from Mitch Galbraith as he split the Lakers’ defence, careful to stay onside at the blueline.
Usiski shot glove side on Ampe, who got a piece of the puck but couldn’t quite recover before it skittered over the line at 17:53.
Before Hogan’s equalizer, the Lakers had let another lead slip away.
Captain Tyler Stevenson had opened the scoring on the power play, firing home a Phil Jennrich rebound just 5:35 into the game for his 11th of the year—seven of which have come with the man-advantage.
Fort William (5-1) got on the board with 1:12 left in the period as Matt Valley joined the rush and knocked a Riley Marsh rebound past Ampe.
Still, Fort Frances took its second lead of the game when Byron Katapaytuk found a drop pass from Ryan Wildman in tight to the net and beat an out-of-position Pelletier at 2:55 of the second.
The goal was Katapaytuk’s sixth.
In all, Ampe made 22 saves while Pelletier turned aside 31 shots.
After opening the season with seven of their first nine games at home, the Lakers (5-4) now will play five-straight away from the friendly confines of the Ice For Kids Arena.
The road trip begins tomorrow night in Dryden when the Lakers face the Ice Dogs.