The Fort Frances Jr. Sabres opened their second season in the SIJHL with a pair of weekend losses to the visiting Thunder Bay Bearcats.
The Bearcats romped to a 6-3 victory in Friday night’s opener, then pulled out a narrow 3-2 win Saturday night.
The Sabres actually opened the scoring just over two minutes into Saturday’s game when Brendan Baumgartner banged in a rebound off a Mike Boese shot.
But the Bearcats responded midway through the period as a flurry of shots on Sabres’ goalie David Novak finally resulted in a Chad Richard goal to tie the game.
That score held up until early in the second period, when Chris Kitt capitalized on another rebound while on an extended power play to give the Bearcats a 2-1 lead.
Mitch Cain made it 2-2 with a power-play marker less than a minute into the third to get the crowd—and the momentum—back in the Sabres’ favour.
The tide would turn soon after, however, as a defensive zone break down led to Richard’s second goal of the night to ice the Bearcats’ victory.
Novak was stellar in goal despite taking the loss, with the three-way logjam at the goaltending position likely to continue.
Emotions boiled over near the end of Saturday’s game. The Sabres’ Rod Bouchard dropped the gloves with Graeme McCormack and eventually ragdolled the Bearcats’ defenceman to the ice.
But McCormack simply taunted the Sabres’ bench—and the crowd—by pointing to the scoreboard after the fight.
Meanwhile, Baumgartner tried to get at Bearcats’ defenceman Brad Pawlowski, but was held back by a linesman’s best efforts.
Pawlowski continually had taunted Sabres’ players and the crowd with his antics all game—despite refusing to be a willing partner with any of the Sabres who tried to settle the matter.
Needless to say, there’s already plenty of bad blood between the two teams that could well that carry over to their next meeting Oct. 23 in Thunder Bay.
The Sabres next host the defending SIJHL champion Dryden Ice Dogs tomorrow night (Sept. 23) at 7:30 p.m., then round out their season-opening four-game homestand against the Fort William North Stars on Friday night.
The team’s first road game is slated for Oct. 1 against the expansion Sioux Lookout Flyers.