Lakers earn road wins
The Thunder Bay North Stars now have a tidy pair of bookends on their mantle—courtesy of the red-hot Fort Frances Lakers.
SIJHL scoring leader Lucas DeBenedet notched a hat trick, and Bryce Lipinski added a pair of goals, as the Lakers won their eighth-straight game by doubling the host Thunder Bay Stars 8-4 on Saturday night.
The Stars entered the weekend ranked No. 3 in the Canadian Junior ‘A’ Hockey League top 20 rankings while the Lakers were only in the honourable mention category.
But the Lakers, who got a 32-save effort from Ryan Ferguson, now have won two out of three in the season series while its sizzling offence has scored six or more goals the past three games.
The squad now leads the second-place Stars by four points for top spot in the SIJHL, although Thunder Bay holds two games in hand.
DeBenedet, meanwhile, has reclaimed his status as the league’s Triple Crown threat—leading the circuit in goals (10), assists (12), and points (22).
The International Falls native scored twice in the second period, then added a man-advantage marker in the third, as a potent Lakers’ power-play went 4-for-7 in the game while the Stars were a meager 1-for-8.
Zach Grzelewski, Jesse Taylor, Daniel Delpaggio, and Kris Kellaway replied for Thunder Bay, which trailed 2-1 after the first period and 6-2 after the second.
Starter Eric Mann was sent scurrying to the bench after Aiken’s goal at 3:26 of the second made it four goals against on 17 shots.
Jordan Kelso mopped up and was charged with the loss after also giving up four goals while making only 10 stops.
On Friday night, the Lakers wore down a yet-again undermanned Wisconsin team—scoring six unanswered goals in a 6-1 defeat of the last-place Wilderness (1-7) in Spooner.
Sawyer Jacobson’s power-play goal at 7:30 of the first had the home crowd in good spirits as Wisconsin took a 1-0 lead.
But it was all Fort Frances from there in what was hardly a defensive showcase as the Lakers outshot the Wilderness 60-52.
Brandon Sinclair kicked off a 3-for-4 night for the Lakers’ power-play units with his marker at 11:33 to tie the game.
Then in the second, Cousineau and Lipinski connected against beleaguered Wilderness goalie Luke Thompson (54 saves), with Lipinski’s coming with only one second left on the clock.
His twin brother, Lyndon, then sandwiched a pair of goals around a marker by Torrin Grange to round out the scoring in the third.
Jordan Cartney was terrific in the Laker net, turning aside 51 shots to win his second-straight start since returning from injury.
The Lakers’ next outing will mark their competitive debut at the new Couchiching arena, where they’ll host the fourth-place Minnesota Iron Rangers (5-3) this Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.