What looked like a sure victory turned into heart-wrenching defeat here Friday night as the Fort Frances Jr. Sabres fell to 0-4 on the season with an 8-5 loss to the Fort William North Stars.
A spirited first two periods saw the Sabres jump out to a 5-3 lead, but five-straight goals by the Stars over the final 20 minutes disintegrated all hopes of seeing the Sabres earn their first victory of their second SIJHL season.
“It was very hard to swallow the collapse we had in the third period,” head coach Wayne Strachan said. “To play like we did for 40 minutes, and then come out and just give the game away really is not acceptable.”
The Sabres jumped out to a 3-1 lead on first-period goals by Dan Smith, Patrick Bobczynski, and Dan Usiski. All three were of the individual effort variety.
Smith got things started shorthanded as he broke in on a partial breakaway, fended off the Stars’ defender, and then snapped a pinpoint shot to open the scoring.
Bobczynski’s goal was of a similar ilk as the Sabres’ defenceman jumped into the play, worked around a Fort William defender, and then fired a shot over the blocker of goalie Patrick Sullivan.
That spelled the end of Sullivan’s night as he was replaced by Michael Mitchell in the Stars’ cage. The move didn’t stem the tide, however, as Usiski tallied shortly afterwards when he rang a perfect shot off the crossbar and in.
The Stars closed the gap to 3-2 midway through the second, but two quick goals by Brendan Baumgartner and Chris Sinclair gave the home side a commanding lead heading into the third.
That momentum was not be maintained, however, as the Stars jumped on the Sabres early and often in the final period to steal the win.
The Sabres next travel to Sioux Lookout to face the expansion Flyers on Wednesday night—and something is going to have to give as both teams are winless to start the season.
The Flyers lost back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday to the North Stars by scores of 11-1 and 14-2.