Sabres split with North Stars

Hosting a fearsome, and in many ways superior, Fort William North Stars squad, the Fort Frances Jr. Sabres earned a split in a pair of hard fought 6-4 games over the weekend.
“We’ll take a split,” said Sabres’ head coach Wayne Strachan. “Coming into the weekend, we sure wanted a sweep. . . .
“They came to play, they outworked us, and [Saturday night] we bounced back,” he added.
Newly-acquired defenceman Rod Bouchard opened the scoring Saturday night with his first goal as a Sabre, the only tally in the first period as goalie Ryan Faragher made 22 stops—many of them acrobatic and improbable.
The North Stars answered with two goals in the second period before Steven Sus and Mitch Cain put the Sabres up 3-2.
Alessio Tomassetti and Mike Parisien then scored four minutes into the third period—putting Fort William on their heels and forcing them into a time-out.
The visitors roared back out with a goal by captain Sean Bassingthwaite less than a minute later and then one from Travis Jaspers shortly after to draw within 5-4.
But Quinn Amiel scored an empty-netter to ice the win—bringing the crowd to its feet.
Amiel, wearing the captain’s ‘C’ on the Sabres’ new black home uniforms, took the puck down ice, fighting a North Stars’ backchecker. He fell to his stomach to corral a hopping puck and managed to pop it into the empty net while lying flat on the ice.
He didn’t go so far as to say it was his best empty-netter of his career, though.
“It looked the best, I don’t know if it was, but it looked good,” Amiel laughed afterwards. “It was definitely the most important one I’ve gotten, that’s for sure.”
The North Stars (24-9-0-2) managed 57 shots in the game, and while the Sabres (12-15-3-3) saved some of their best hockey for the third period, Fort William still looked very capable of a comeback after closing the lead to just a goal.
The win also was lent gravity after the Sabres’ tough 6-4 loss Friday night. David Novak let in three goals on seven shots and was pulled just over 10 minutes into the game.
After the first few minutes in the third, the North Stars had extended the lead to 6-1.
The lone bright spot on the Sabres’ roster Friday night was left-winger Brendan Baumgartner. He was a factor on every goal in the game, scoring the first two unassisted while drawing assists on the other pair.
“I wasn’t having a good week last weekend with the Bulldogs,” he noted. “Just try to have a better game, wasn’t easy to do.”
After scoring a shorthanded goal and assisting twice in the third period, all in the span of just 72 seconds, the Edmonton native was serenaded by fans, bestowing him the nickname “Bam” after the ‘U’ on the nameplate of his uniform had fallen off late in the game.
The Sabres next host the Thunder Bay Bearcats this coming weekend. The Bearcats are 22-12-0-0 and 14 points ahead of Fort Frances in the standings.
“The Bearcats apparently picked up a few extra players [at the trade deadline] they didn’t have before,” Amiel said. “We gotta look at it like this series [against the North Stars].”
The puck drops Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with the second game going Sunday at 3:15 p.m.