Miners trapped in Laker landslide
After scoring their first goal of the game, the English River Miners’ bench derisively commented in the direction of Fort Frances Lakers’ goalie Jordan Cartney about his resemblance to Swiss cheese.
By the end of the night, there were plenty of holes in that theory—not to mention the Miners themselves.
“Our game is built for speed and moving the puck,” noted Lakers’ general manager and head coach Wayne Strachan, who called a vital time-out at 11:43 of the second after Vincent Currao’s second of the game pulled English River to within one.
“In our mind, that’s how we believe teams are going to play us—in our face, trying to slow us down,” he said.
“We need to learn to compete at a high level and use our speed and skill to attack the net.”
The Lakers built a 3-0 lead after the first period on an even-strength goal by Bryson Jasper and power-play markers from Billy Grillo and Bryce Lipinski.
The Miners responded when Currao’s wrist shot deflected off Cartney and in at 5:44 of the second.
Currao then used a slick backhand-to-forehand move in the right face-off circle before whipping a bullet past Cartney for his second of the night.
The ensuing time-out seemed to not only settle down the Lakers, but fire them back up.
“We came out flat in the second and let the Miners back into it,” said Strachan.
“We just told them to stay disciplined and keep the puck safe,” he added. “We responded well.”
Did they ever.
Lucas DeBenedet, who earned the year’s first Pizza Hut Player of the Week award (five points in two games), took a pass near the side of the net from John Dora and calmly fired it past Miners’ goalie Eric Ouellet at 14:24 to make it 4-2.
The floodgates opened early in the third as Lyndon Lipinski, Tarran Romyn, and Miles Nolan all scored in the first 4:02 of the frame to chase Ouellet and create a 7-2 cushion for the Lakers.
Fort Frances was no kinder to back-up goalie P.D. Melgoza, as DeBenedet picked up his second on the first shot against Melgoza at 5:58.
The Lakers’ power-play machine then kicked into overdrive—connecting four times as part of a jaw-dropping 6-for-9 effort in the contest.
Newly-appointed captain Patrick Sofer and Tanner Fricke made it 10-2 before Lyndon Lipinski and Jasper each notched their second—all in a span of 3:31.
“We have a goal of being 25 percent on the power play this season,” noted Sofer, who matched Bryce Lipinski’s team-high four points in the game.
“Power plays win games,” he stressed.
The last three power-play goals came on the heels of a mid-period meltdown at 9:44, which saw one fight and one attack straight out of the backstreets of Chicago.
Kevin Kurm and Devan Vander Wyk traded punches in the neutral zone for a lengthy period of time.
While the officials were distracted with that, Neil Rice of the Miners dropped his gloves in front of his own net and proceeded to rain blows on the back of the head of Mason Meyer, who covered up to fend off the surprise assault.
Referee Darrell Scott was powerless to do anything to stop Rice—despite the protests of Grillo—until the linesmen arrived at the scene after escorting Kurm and Vander Wyk off the ice.
When it was all done, Kurm and Vander Wyk received fighting majors and game misconducts while Rice was handed a double game misconduct as well as a fighting major.
Meyer received only a roughing minor for his part in the incident.
“It was a very poor effort on our part,” Miners’ general manager and head coach Kevin Kahoot said in the aftermath of the blowout.
“I hope it’s uncharacteristic of what our team will be like this season,” he added.
“I’m very disappointed.”
The Lakers were the disappointed group Friday night after failing to hold another 3-0 first-period lead in falling 4-3 to the visiting Thunder Bay North Stars to kick off the regular season.
DeBenedet, Kurm, and Meyer proved to be a lethal line in the first period—each scoring against Stars’ goalie Eric Mann, with DeBenedet and Kurm also earning two assists and Meyer one.
Taylor Santorelli’s first of two goals on the night at 15:42 of the second was the catalyst Thunder Bay needed, however.
Cary Brown made it 3-2 at 1:45 of the third before striking again on the power play at 7:56 to tie the contest 3-3.
Then with Dora in the box for cross-checking, Santorelli supplied the game-winner at 11:12, which held up despite Fort Frances pulling Cartney for the extra attacker with 1:08 to go.
The Lakers are in Dryden tonight for the first of a home-and-home series against the Ice Dogs (2-1).
The rematch is scheduled for this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.