The first step on the path to a “three-peat” was more of a stumble for the Fort Frances Lakers.
Kenny Hasbergen notched a pair of goals to pace the Minnesota Iron Rangers to a 3-1 win over the Lakers last night in Hoyt Lakes in the first SIJHL pre-season game for both squads.
Hasbergen scored the lone goal of the first period.
After Dalton Johnson scored early in the second, Hasbergen lit the lamp again later in the period to make it 3-0 after 40 minutes.
Second-year Laker Dylan Robertson spoiled the shutout bid of veteran Iron Rangers’ goalie Kyle Carignan with a power-play marker with 1:40 to go.
Brandon Bodnar took the loss in goal for the Lakers, who were outshot 21-19.
The Lakers are back in action tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. when they welcome the Steinbach Pistons, last year’s finalists in the MJHL, to the Ice For Kids Arena in the first of a home-and-home series.
The series will wrap up next Friday (Sept. 11) in Steinbach.
Lakers’ head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan said the team planned to add a few players this week to the group of roughly 20 currently with the club.
He added at least one of those would be revealed today, with the newcomer expected to have a good chance at playing on one of the top two lines.
In related news, the Lakers enter the new season seeded 12th in the CJHL’s pre-season top 20 rankings, which were revealed Tuesday.
The squad was helped by its success last year during the regular season and the playoffs, when they became two-time defending SIJHL champions and reached the final of the Dudley Hewitt Cup before falling to the Soo Thunderbirds.
The Penticton Vees (BCHL) nabbed the top spot in the rankings, followed by the Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL) at No. 2.
The defending RBC Cup and MJHL champion Portage Terriers are ranked third.