Lakers pull out OT win
Sometimes the best shots are the ones you never see go in.
Lyndon Lipinski scored his second goal of the night at 2:01 of overtime here Friday night to help the Fort Frances Lakers salvage a split of their home-and-home series against the English River Miners with a 4-3 victory.
But instead of opting to dump the puck in, he kicked into another gear and produced a DVR-worthy moment.
“I made my move around the first guy and when I got past him and got the puck back, I saw some room on the glove side,” Lipinski recalled.
“I closed my eyes and the shot went in.”
It was the 15th goal of the season for Lipinski, who broke out of a mini-slump after being held pointless in his previous three games.
The five-star play looked eerily familiar to Lakers’ defenceman Riley Daly.
“The first day I was here, [Lipinski] did that move on me in practice,” he chuckled.
“He’s got some great hands and speed,” Daly added. “It’s phenomenal what he can do.”
The drama only became necessary after the Lakers (23-3-0-2) coughed up a two-goal lead with just over five minutes to go, preventing head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan from turning cartwheels over the two points.
“I’m not sure what’s going on with us right now,” a displeased Strachan admitted.
“We’re not coming to play and we’re not sticking to the game plan right now,” he stressed.
“We’re making it hard on ourselves.”
After a scoreless second period, Lipinski made it 3-1 at 8:38 of the third on a strange goal where he drove the net with the puck, took a shot, and had it somehow deflect off of him and into the net behind Miners’ goalie P.D. Melgoza.
But English River (12-14-3), who edged the Lakers 4-3 at home last Tuesday, fought back.
John Morales and former Laker Bryson Jasper scored 27 seconds apart later in the frame to force the extra session.
“This team has battled through adversity and is building some character,” Miners’ head coach Kevin Kahoot said about his expansion squad, who had won eight of their last 12 games.
“I’d be lying if I said that at this point of the season, I thought we’d be just under .500,” he added.
“When you play the No. 6 team in the country and you’re down 3-1 late in the third, and you still come out with a point, that shows a team that doesn’t quit.”
Brent Aiken (seventh) and Cody Wickstrom (fourth) had given the Lakers a 2-0 lead in the first before Chris Hrabec countered for the visitors before the period was out.
Jordan Cartney made 35 saves in his first start in three games to earn the win while Melgoza had 40 stops in a losing effort.
In related news, Lakers’ forwards Colton Spicer and Donovan Cousineau, along with defenceman Brandon Sinclair, remain sidelined by injuries, with still no timetable for their return.
In other news, it seems goalie Ethan Wood’s stay with the Lakers was a short one.
The 20-year-old from Lloydminster, Alta. announced on his Twitter feed Dec. 9 that he had registered for post-secondary school that same day.
Wood joined the team at the end of November from the Kingston Voyageurs of the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League for a player development fee.
He won his only game with the Lakers—4-3 in overtime against the Dryden Ice Dogs on Nov. 30.
The Lakers are back in action tonight when they host the third-place Thunder Bay North Stars (17-5-1-3) at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.
Fort Frances leads Thunder Bay by 10 points for top spot in the SIJHL, with the Stars holding two games in hand.