Stratton Pickett scored once and added two assists to help the Red Lake Miners hold off a late surge by the visiting Fort Frances Lakers in a narrow 6-5 win on Tuesday night.
Brett Hahkala netted a hat trick for the fifth-place Lakers, but it wasn’t enough as they suffered their 32nd regulation loss of the season (16-32-2-1).
It also was the seventh-straight loss for Fort Frances.
The second-place Miners (35-15-2-0) started strong as they skated out to a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes on goals from Pickett (power play) and Keilan Toews.
Hahkala finally got the Lakers on the scoreboard 8:19 into the second on a man advantage–only to see the Miners strike back twice via the power play.
Dante Tisi tallied on a two-man advantage while Jackson Stephens netted another shortly after with his side still up a man.
Hahkala then notched his second of the frame at 16:47 as he clicked during a man advantage once more to trim it to 4-2 after 40 minutes.
Fort Frances came out quickly in the third to pull within one as Jaedin Ness buried his 19th of the season just 18 seconds into the frame.
Not to be outdone, Red Lake tacked on two more markers off the sticks of Michael Di Lullo and Kyle Uzelman to go ahead 6-3 with over 12 minutes remaining.
Answering back, Hahkala reached the 20-goal plateau as he completed his first SIJHL hat trick at 15:30 to trim it to 6-4.
Isaac Baron then brought the visitors to within one once more on a stellar individual effort.
After driving down the left wing, Baron powered his way across the front on the crease and tucked his 13th into the open side at the right of the net.
But the Miners held firm the rest of the way to secure the win.
Bryce Young and Matt Krawiec dished out two assists apiece for Red Lake while Noah Loveday had a trio of helpers for Fort Frances.
Vince Benedetto made 32 saves to earn the win while Jacob Gnidziejko faced 45 shots in defeat.
The Lakers resume action tomorrow night when they host the third-place Thief River Falls Norskies (29-18-4-1) at 7:30 p.m.
Fort Frances then will cap the week by welcoming the last-place Minnesota Iron Rangers (3-49-0-0) on Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
Both games will be played at the Ice For Kids Arena.