Better late than never.
Newcomer Stone Stelzl scored with just 91 seconds left in regulation time to lift the Fort Frances Lakers to an exciting 2-1 win over the Red Lake Miners in the pre-season finale for both teams yesterday afternoon at the Ice For Kids Arena.
Red Lake opened the scoring early in the first period as Ryan Howe finished off a Ryan Patterson feed just 1:23 into the game.
It stayed that way into the latter stages of the second stanza when Jake Barker buried the equalizer at 15:23 of the frame on a power play.
Taking a feed through the middle of the ice, Barker snapped a quick shot that eluded Kolter Pawlick in the Miners' net to knot it at 1-1.
Then with overtime looming, it was Stelzl's marker that pulled out the late home ice triumph for Fort Frances.
Stelzl barged his way to the front of the net before tucking the puck home to send the home fans into a frenzy.
The Lakers outshot the Miners 33-26, with Alex Bujega picking up the win and Pawlick suffering the narrow defeat for Red Lake.
The game was originally slated for Friday evening at the Ice For Kids Arena, but was rescheduled due to a breakdown of the Miners' team bus that prevented Red Lake from travelling to Fort Frances in time for the contest.
In order to still have an event, the Lakers and Muskie boys' hockey team combined their rosters to make two teams and played an exhibition game against each other.
“Team Lakers" went on to defeat "Team Muskies” by a 6-1 margin.
Regular season play for the 2019-20 SIJHL season begins this Friday (Sept. 20) on three fronts.
The Lakers will welcome the Thief River Falls Norskies in their home-opener at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.
Elsewhere, the Miners play host to the Dryden GM Ice Dogs at 7 p.m. and the expansion Wisconsin Lumberjacks will make their league debut as they welcome the defending SIJHL champion Thunder Bay North Stars in a 7:45 p.m. start at the Spooner Civic Center.
All SIJHL games are streamed live online at HockeyTV.com.