The Fort Frances Canadians regrouped after a tough weekend and beat the host Baudette Bears 5-2 last night.
“The effort was a lot better,” said Gary Beck, the team’s director of hockey operations. “The boys were really moving.”
The Canadians jumped out to an early 1-0 lead when Matthew Beck scored less than two minutes into the game, assisted by defenceman Josh Scott.
Colin Barton extended the Canadians lead to 2-0, assisted by Justin Scott and Ashe Woolsey.
The Canadians then capped their first-period offensive barrage with a goal by captain George Ossachuk. Woolsey and Kyle Herr drew the assists.
The Bears scored two quick goals to start of the second period. But Logan Allen (assisted by Matthew Beck) and Woolsey (Allen/Steve Beck) answered back to give the Canadians a 5-2 lead after two.
The third period was scoreless.
The Canadians’ coaching staff had been unimpressed with the team’s effort of late despite a third-place finish at the third-annual FASA Invitational Jr. Gold tournament in Grand Forks, N.D. over the weekend.
“We struggled, and basically the boys themselves realized how much they’ve been struggling and that’s a good sign,” head coach Dave Egan said.
“Hopefully they’ll want to pick it up a bit more now.”
The Canadians opened the tournament Friday afternoon with a 4-3 come-from-behind victory in overtime against Grand Forks Gold.
After falling behind 1-0 less than a minute into the first period, Tyler Harris tied the game after taking a Brandon Legarie pass and beating Grand Forks’ goalie Dallas Larson.
The deadlock would not last long, though, as Grand Forks’ forward Jordan Kramer beat Canadians’ goalie Joe Bodnar for his second goal of the contest just prior to the halfway point of the opening period.
Kramer extended Grand Forks’ lead to 3-1 early in the second period with his hat trick goal. But Harris scored his second of the game, this time assisted by Ryan Shortreed, to cut the deficit to a goal after two.
The Canadians then came out flying in the final period and managed to draw a penalty within the first minute as Travis Johnson was sent off for slashing.
And they wasted little time taking advantage of the opportunity as Harris scored his third of the afternoon on a pass from Ossachuk while on the power play to tie the game at 3-3.
Neither team could score again in regulation time, sending the game to overtime.
In the extra frame, Dayton Brown found Andrew Maki with a pass and the Canadians’ defenceman beat Larson to give his team the 4-3 victory.
“We had somewhat of a good flow going there,” Egan remarked. “We had to come back from a 3-1 deficit.”
With the victory, the Canadians advanced to the ‘A’ semi-finals of the eight-team tournament on Saturday morning against the Duluth Jr. Gold.
After falling behind 1-0 early in the first, Ossachuk converted a three-way passing play between Josh Scott, Legarie, and himself to tie the game at 1-1.
The Canadians took their first lead of the game early in the second when Ossachuk scored his second of the game (unassisted).
But Duluth would roar back with four unanswered goals over the final period-and-a-half en route to a 5-2 victory.
“We probably played our worst game of the year in that game,” Egan said. “Hopefully we have that one behind us now.
“Basically it was just a little bit of everything,” he noted. “We just couldn’t get any rhythm.”
The loss to Duluth meant the Canadians faced the Fargo Flames in the consolation final Sunday afternoon.
As they had all weekend, Baker and Harris once again led the way. Baker netted four goals while Harris added a hat trick in the Canadians’ 8-0 romp over the Flames.
Brown rounded out the scoring.
“Tyler [Harris] gives it all and plays with a really high level of intensity, and it paid off for him in the way of goals,” Egan said.
“Jared [Baker], each game, he just seems to be bringing his game up to the next level so he was able to reward himself, and the team, with a four-goal performance.”
The Canadians are back in action this weekend (Feb. 2-4) when they compete in the Duluth Jr. Gold tournament.