Kyle Uzelman had an impressive debut for the Fort Frances Lakers as he collected the game-winner early in overtime and dished out four assists as his new side withstood a big comeback by the expansion Wisconsin Lumberjacks to nab a wild 6-5 decision in SIJHL action on Saturday night at the Spooner Civic Center.
The win snapped a season-high six-game losing streak for the Lakers (8-10-1).
The first period was all Lakers as they got goals from Tyler Malpass, Noah Loveday and Flynn Perry to jump skate out to a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.
After Kiernan Bailey went high on Wisconsin goalie Matt Fitzgerald to make it 4-0 early in the second frame, it was the Lumberjacks who suddenly roared to life.
Braden LaPorte got the hosts going by blasting one in from the left side at 4:33 before Dalton Garcia swiped the puck behind the net and fed an open Parker Brakebill in front, who finished off his sixth of the season at the seven-minute mark.
Ryan Green connecting from the slot on a two-man advantage to make it a one-goal game.
Continuing to press, the Lumberjacks (5-12-2) evened it at 13:40 off a scrambled draw that resulted in Nicholas Foldesi snapping in his second from the right faceoff circle to knot it at 4-4.
The Lakers regained the lead three-and-a-half minutes into the third when Stone Stezl knocked in his own rebound on a power play.
A nice cross-ice pass from Lukas Lundgren helped the Lumberjacks force overtime with 8:17 left in regulation as he found Cade Moreland, who stuffed in the equalizer into the open side.
Heading to the extra frame, MacKenzie Flett broke up a Lumberjack's rush allowing Uzelman, the former Red Lake Miners' forward who the Lakers acquired on Nov. 13, and Malpass to skate into the Wisconsin zone where Uzelman eventually neatly tucked in the game-winner 24 seconds in to cap off the high-scoring affair in impressive style.
Wisconsin outshot the Lakers 40-33, with Alex Bugeja picking up the win and Fitzgerald suffering the loss.
The Lakers will resume action this Wednesday when they battle the host Thief River Falls Norskies (11-7-2) at the Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Then they'll cap the week by welcoming the defending SIJHL champion Thunder Bay North Stars (14-3-2) on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.