Fort Frances Lakers’ forward Byron Katapaytuk made more than just fans happy early in a 3-1 loss to the Dryden Ice Dogs here Tuesday night.
Katapaytuk’s power-play tally just 3:54 into the game sent fans into a coat-tossing frenzy as 30 winter coats, along with hats, mitts, and wool socks, were collected for the Associates of St. Marguerite d’Youville’s annual coat drive.
That extra joy seemed to fill the Lakers’ quota, however, as Dryden goalie Ian Perrier responded to the weak dribbler through his legs—which snapped a two-game shutout streak—by turning aside 33 other Fort Frances shots.
The Ice Dogs rallied to tie the game midway through the second period.
Jesse Linner’s initial shot was blocked by defenceman Cody Hasbargen, but Linner dug the puck out from underneath him and wired a wrister past Lakers’ goalie Jameson Shortreed.
The Ice Dogs then took the lead in the late stages of the third when Jacob Ransom, right off a face-off to the right of the Lakers’ goal, quickly shot the puck, catching all Lakers off-guard and beating Shortreed low at 11:39.
The goal came on the power-play, snapping to Lakers’ streak of games without allowing a power-play goal at 11.
The Ice Dogs iced the victory with an empty-net goal by Ian Schachte with 18 seconds left after the Lakers failed to score on a late power play (Perrier stopping Jaret Leclair on a cross-ice pass from Blake Boaz was the only major threat).
Shortreed made 28 saves in all.
After two victories last week at the SIJHL “Showcase” event in Spooner, Wis., in which Lakers’ head coach Wayne Strachan raved about the play of the entire team, he was disheartened to see such a stark turnaround in their play Tuesday night against Dryden.
Compounding the disappointment was that the Canadian Junior Hockey League had ranked the Lakers 17th in the country earlier in the week.
“I’m utterly embarrassed,” Strachan remarked. “The accolades we got this week don’t really mean anything.
“Being ranked no. 17 means nothing to me,” he added.
“The guys in the locker-room didn’t feel that way,” Strachan admitted.
“They thought they would just step on the ice and Dryden would give us the game.”
Strachan also acknowledged what likely was a stunned crowd of 324, noting the team they’d heard about didn’t look anything like the team that played Tuesday.
“The most disappointing thing is to give that praise, then for our fans to hear how good we played down there [in Spooner], and to come in front of them and play like that is unacceptable.
“We owe them a big apology.”
Strachan wasn’t pleased that the Ice Dogs were able to slow down the pace of the game—something he said the Lakers tend to fend off when playing in Dryden.
The Lakers (9-6-0) will look to rebound tonight when they host the Sioux Lookout Flyers (3-9-1) at 7:30 p.m. at Ice For Kids Arena.
Strachan vowed his team will be prepared.
“If we come back with the same effort, then it’ll be another long night,” he remarked.
“We’ll have to be ready.”