The Fort Frances Lakers showed off some of their patented early-season resilience by splitting a pair of games over the weekend.
After rallying for a 4-3 shootout win over the host Red Lake Miners on Friday night, the Lakers followed that up with a hard-fought 3-2 road loss to the Dryden GM Ice Dogs last night.
A couple of lucky bounces went the way of the Ice Dogs as they pulled out the narrow home win.
On a power play midway through the first frame, it was the Lakers (7-5-1) who opened the scoring off a give-and-go in the neutral zone that resulted in Tyler Malpass getting the puck over to Stone Stelzl, who snapped in his seventh of the season off the right wing past Dryden goalie Jacob Anthony.
Up a skater themselves early in the second frame, the Ice Dogs (7-7-1) notched the equalizer off the stick of Xavier Halterman, who banked one in off a Lakers' defender to knot the affair at 1-1.
It stayed tied at one deep into the third, where Dylan Winsor drove along the end boards behind the Lakers' net and worked his way in front where he shovelled the puck towards the goal and had it clip off a body and trickle across the goal line past Alex Bugeja with 2:08 to go.
Malcolm Huemmert put one into an empty net with 11 seconds remaining for Dryden and it turns out the hosts would need it as the Lakers' Michael Chapman rushed in right off the draw and fired a shot that beat Anthony before time ran out to cap the scoring.
Anthony made 31 saves to earn the win while Bugeja turned aside 30 shots in taking the loss.
On Friday night, the Lakers rallied from a two-goal second-period deficit to pull out the shootout win over the Miners at the Cochenour Arena.
Some hard work early from Tucker Evans helped the Miners (7-4-0-1) strike early as he drove in and buried his third of the season just 1:44 into the first period.
Red Lake then went up by a pair later in the frame as Jordan Baranesky tallied on the power play.
The Lakers finally got on the board four-and-a-half minutes into the second when a MacKenzie Flett attempt from the right point bounced off Flynn Perry and changed direction before finding its way into the open side to trim it to 2-1.
Coming right back, however, the Miners went up by two again as Ethan Stuckless made no mistake from the top of the crease as he finished off the work from behind the net of Ryan Howe and Kyle Uzelman.
The Lakers pulled to within 3-2 at 8:16 during a man advantage opportunity as Jack Lane fed a charging Noah Loveday going to the net as he finished off a tap-in from close range.
In the third, the visitors forced overtime midway through the frame as Nick Hahkala notched the equalizer with his second of the year.
After a scoreless five-minute 3-on-3 OT, a shootout was needed to determine a winner.
Lane used some crafty stick work to score before Uzelman, who went bar down, tied it one apiece through the first three rounds.
On the fourth attempt by Fort Frances, Loveday snapped a shot glove side that beat Red Lake goalie Zach Willms to give the visitors the edge.
Needing to score to keep the shootout going, the Miners were thwarted by goalie Dylan Kosik to end it as the Lakers skated away with the extra point on the night.
Shots on goal favoured Red Lake by a narrow 31-28 margin.
The third-place Lakers will resume action tomorrow night when they host those same second-place Miners at 7 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.
Fort Frances then will cap the week with a weekend home-and-home series against the league-leading Thunder Bay North Stars (9-1-1).
The Lakers will host the opener on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. before heading to Thunder Bay the next night for a 6:30 start at the Fort William Gardens.