Lakers drop pair to North Stars
After watching his team drop a pair of home games to the Thunder Bay North Stars over the weekend, Fort Frances Lakers’ head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan had a message for his players in the dressing room.
“The main thing we talked about was to just forget about this weekend and start to concentrate on our game in Thunder Bay on Monday night,” Strachan said after Saturday night’s 1-0 loss.
“They [Thunder Bay] played well once again and while we had our chances, it just wasn’t our game.”
Saturday’s loss came just 24 hours after a 2-1 defeat to the visiting North Stars, which put the brakes on the Lakers’ 11-game winning streak.
The North Stars, meanwhile, snapped a nine-game losing skid Friday night while Saturday’s victory moved them up to fourth place in the SIJHL standings with two games left in the regular season.
“I think our play on Saturday night was very comparable to what it was on Friday,” noted North Stars’ head coach Jordan Smith.
“I challenged the guys before the game to not only match their effort on Friday but to exceed it, and I think they did just that,” he added.
After Alex Vaillant beat Lakers’ goalie Talor Joseph just 51 seconds into Saturday’s game, North Stars’ netminder Jayme Brattengeier led his team the rest of the way, making 38 saves to earn his first SIJHL shutout.
“I was definitely nervous at the end of the game,” admitted Brattengeier, who has played four seasons in the SIJHL.
“I’ve had the opportunity to get shutouts before but things just never seemed to go my way,” he noted.
“The boys all worked hard for the win tonight, and I have to thank them a lot.”
After Lakers’ captain Merritt Rysavy opened the scoring midway through Friday night’s game, the North Stars bounced back with a pair of second-period goals by Jerid Adamson and Kristopher Kellaway.
The Lakers also lost the services of goalie Jameson Shortreed early in the third. He suffered a concussion following a collision with Thunder Bay’s Matt Kaarela when he went out to play the puck.
Shortreed is expected to be out of action for a couple of weeks, and puts him on the injured list with three other teammates.
Both Rysavy (lower body) and John Dora (finger) both are listed as day-to-day.
Jon Bachman, however, has returned home to Canton, Mich. after his season was ruled over after suffering a concussion last Wednesday night in Dryden.
With those players unable to play, and forward Davis Smith currently serving a three game suspension, the Lakers brought in Muskie defenceman Brandon Sinclair to fill in on the back end over the weekend.
He also will be in the lineup for tonight’s game at the Fort William Gardens.
Both teams then will conclude the regular season Wednesday night in Thunder Bay.
The start time for both games will be at 6:30 p.m. (CST),
In other news, four Lakers were announced as nominees for the SIJHL’s 2012-13 awards this morning.
Jordan Christianson (most valuable player), Merritt Rysavy (best defensive forward), Colton Spicer (most improved player), and Jacob Nolan (most sportsmanlike player) are among the finalists for their respective awards.
Strachan earned a nomination as coach of the year.
The award winners will be announced over the coming weeks.