It seemed for the most part of three periods that the Dryden GM Ice Dogs were going to cruise to another win over their SIJHL rival Fort Frances Lakers as the hosts couldn't find the back of the net.
Tyler Malpass had other plans.
The 20-year-old forward scored a pair of goals with the goalie pulled within the last 1:20 of regulation to knot the game at 2-2 and force overtime on Sunday afternoon at the Ice For Kids Arena.
But the Lakers were unable to fully complete the comeback, failing to score in the shootout as the Ice Dogs got the lone tally from Nolan Marshall in extra shots to skate away with the other point on the night with a 3-2 win.
“We just knew we had to make a push there, we were down two [goals],” Malpass, who had his nose gashed open in the overtime frame, said of the final minutes of regulation.
“We were pretty much controlling the whole game, all three periods we were playing really well and just had to get the intensity up a little bit there for the last five minutes and try to take it home.”
The fourth-place Ice Dogs (22-22-4 heading into yesterday) started off strong by notching markers in the back half of the first period with Justin Pitari scoring on an unassisted breakaway at 14:08 before Josh Weber collected his 21st before the frame expired to give the visitors a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Neither side connected in a scoreless second stanza as the Ice Dogs carried their two-goal cushion into the third.
It stayed that way until the late going, when with Lakers' goalie Dean Buchholz out for an extra attacker, Tyler Malpass banged one in at 18:48 to put the hosts on the board.
Pulling their netminder once more, the last-place Lakers (18-24-3-2) were rewarded with the tying goal with 15 seconds remaining as Malpass potted his second straight marker off a feed from Kyle Uzelman at the right side to send it to OT.
“I was just shooting it,” Malpass said of his mindset with the game on the line.
“There was under two minutes left, we drew up a faceoff play there and it didn't work out because we lost the draw, so I just fired it at the net [when I got it]. Then on the second one, Uzelman made a nice pass to me out in the slot and I just buried it.”
Neither team converted in the extra frame, so the game went to the shootout to determine a winner.
Notching the lone effort in the extra shots was Dryden's Nolan Marshall, who picked the corner to give his squad the narrow road win.
Mathieu Harrold, Peyton Hughes and Brett Hahkala came up empty on their attempts.
Ice Dogs' goalie Jacob Anthony was solid, despite the two late ones against, as he finished with 45 stops, plus turning aside all three he saw in the shootout to get the win.
Buchholz made 33 saves to help the Lakers earn a point in the narrow setback.
“I think we started to play with a little bit of urgency in our game and some desperation,” Lakers' head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan said after the game.
"Both teams have played a lot of games through the week and we just didn't seem to have the same drive we had [in] our last two wins on Wednesday and Friday for whatever reason.
“But through the third we kind of pushed the pace and had that urgency and desperation and maybe a little bit of luck on our side,” he chuckled.
“And we were able to tie it up. It would have been nice to obviously get the two points but we got one and we'll make another step forward to Friday here against Thief River Falls.”
The Lakers had opened the weekend on Friday night with a 5-4 win over the Wisconsin Lumberjacks at the Ice For Kids Arena for their 18th victory of the season.
Fort Frances started strong with markers in the back half of the opening 20 minutes off the sticks of Brett Hahkala and Stone Stelzl, who notched his 16th with just 10 seconds left in the stanza.
Each team then connected twice in the second frame, beginning with a Joel Matthews effort for Wisconsin just over a minute in.
However, Peyton Hughes and Kiernan Bailey, on a five-on-three man advantage, countered for the Lakers to put them ahead 4-1.
The Lumberjacks (19-26-4-1) did get one of those back before the period came to a close as Ryan Green buried his 16th during a late power play.
In the third, Uzelman banged in the eventual game winner at 4:36 to put the hosts up 5-2.
Battling back, the Lumberjacks saw Dalton Garcia convert with his side up a skater from the right of the crease midway through the period before Matt Turnbull snapped one in with 2:20 from the slot to bring the guests back to within a goal.
However, the hosts held on from there to win their second straight game.
Lakers' defenceman Matthew Dyck had a solid outing in collecting a pair of primary assists in the home ice win.
Buchholz made 36 saves to earn the win while Nathan Mueller faced 39 attempts in defeat for the Lumberjacks.
The Lakers will resume action this Friday when they host the third-place Thief River Falls Norskies (26-19-3 heading into yesterday) at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.
Fort Frances then will head to Wisconsin the following night to take on the fifth-place Lumberjacks once again at the Spooner Civic Center.
Following that, the Lakers then will head to Red Lake next Monday (March 2) to take on the second-place Miners (30-15-3-2) at the Cochenour Arena.