Lakers sweep Rangers
On the eve of open season for gun hunters, it only was fitting a Hunter fired the decisive shot of the night.
Hunter Leishman’s first goal of the season at 3:18 of the third period proved to be the game-winner as the Fort Frances Lakers beat the visiting Minnesota Iron Rangers 5-3 on Friday night to sweep the home-and-home series and claim their third-straight victory.
They may have started the night as the fourth line but Leishman, newly-acquired Donovan Cousineau, and recently-converted defenceman Aaron Wesley-Chisel wound up being the most impactful forward trio of the night for the Lakers.
“We had lots of chemistry out there,” noted Leishman, who hammered Cousineau’s feed to him at the top of the left face-off circle for the Lakers’ second goal in 30 seconds to make it 4-1.
“Donovan and I played shinny together during the summer and Aaron has made the transition to up front really quick,” he added.
Cousineau, a Fort Frances native who acquired a day earlier in a trade with the MJHL’s Portage Terriers, was pumped up after a winning debut.
“I haven’t played at home in four years,” noted Cousineau.
“It was definitely cool seeing everyone you know in the stands.
“It was a little nerve-wracking and I was feeling some pressure out there,” he admitted. “But I have to remember this game is a team thing.”
Lakers’ head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan liked what he saw from the energetic threesome.
“Bringing in Donovan is a big plus for the team,” said Strachan, whose team went a perfect 3-for-3 on the power play while the Iron Rangers were only 1-for-4.
“He has experience and fits our mold. He’s got speed and adds finesse,” he added.
“Aaron worked hard tonight and Hunter had a little more energy out there,” Strachan noted. “That was his best game all year.”
Leishman’s tally came on the heels of Mason Meyer’s man-advantage marker at 2:48 for his fifth of the year.
The Iron Rangers later cut the lead to two at 5:04 on Trevor Hoth’s power-play goal.
But Billy Grillo’s point shot found its way through a screen in front at 11:12 for his second of the campaign to restore the three-goal lead.
Gus Karkinen’s cannon shot at 18:16 eluded Lakers’ goalie Ryan Ferguson (25 saves), who still played well enough to win his third-straight decision with Jordan Cartney on the shelf since Sept. 25 with a lower-body injury.
John Dora (second of the season) and Torrin Grange (first) scored power-play goals in each of the first two periods, respectively, with Bryson Jasper assisting on both to stake Fort Frances to a 2-0 lead.
Jason Reynolds had the other goal for Minnesota (2-3), which lost 7-5 to the Lakers at home last Tuesday.
Alex Reichle turned aside 33 shots in a losing effort.
The Lakers will shoot for four-straight wins tomorrow when Thunder Bay visits the Ice For Kids Arena at 7:30 p.m. for a first-place showdown.
The Stars nipped the Lakers 4-3 on opening night here, rallying from a 3-0 deficit after the first period.
Besides Cartney, the Lakers’ injury list includes defenceman Cody Wickstrom, who has yet to play this season as he battles through a illness that will keep him sidelined indefinitely.
Defenceman Kyle Lipinski also is out with a lower-body injury and is questionable for tomorrow night’s game.