Happy New Year, same old story.
Pierce Dushenko was brilliant with 49 saves, and Roshen Jaswal had a goal and an assist, as the Fort Frances Lakers edged the host Dryden GM Ice Dogs 4-3 in SIJHL action last night.
It marked the eighth victory in eight tries against the Ice Dogs so far this season for the Lakers (25-3-0-1) and also was the team’s eighth-straight win overall to move them seven points ahead of second-place Dryden, with two games in hand.
The Ice Dogs (20-7-2-2) outshot the Lakers 52-23 and took a 2-0 lead in the first period on a pair of goals by Derek McPhail.
But Dushenko held his team in long enough for the red-hot Nick Minerva to put the Lakers on the board before the end of the period.
Minerva, who on Friday was named Gongshow Gear Inc. performer-of-the-month for the second-straight time after recording 16 points in six December games, now has scored in six-straight games and has an eight-game point streak.
Julian Uhryniuk tied the game with the lone goal of the second.
Carter Chorney gave the Lakers their first lead at 2:03 of the third, sending Ice Dogs’ starter Paul Laferriere to the bench in favour of Taylor Unruh.
Jaswal tacked on what turned out to be a vital goal at 11:40 against Unruh as Troy Williams beat Dushenko with 2:02 to go.
On Saturday, the Lakers fended off a pesky English River Miners’ squad to capture a 4-1 triumph at the Ice For Kids Arena.
Goaltending also was the story in that game as Brandon Bodnar made 36 saves to win his fourth-straight start.
English River (7-19-1-4) was unable to snap what is now a 10-game losing streak despite scoring first on Konnor Dechaine’s tally just 3:03 into the game.
But the Lakers replied with four unanswered markers, with Minerva getting the equalizer on the power play at 9:44 of the first.
Andrew Willner netted the game-winner 1:13 into the second before Dylan Kooner and Christian Ripley (empty-netter) scored in the final 1:19 to ice the win.
The Lakers welcomed back Chorney and Kooner (lower-body injuries), as well as defencemen Dustin Deugau (shoulder) and Ryan Gazich (concussion), from the injury list on Saturday.
For Deugau, it was his first game since Oct. 28.
But the Lakers found out over the two-week holiday break that blueliner Robbie Bonthron will be out for possibly six weeks after suffering a broken jaw during the Lakers’ last pre-Christmas game Dec. 19 against the Minnesota Iron Rangers.
Bonthron was having a standout season so far with 23 points in 27 games.
The Lakers next visit the third-place Thunder Bay North Stars (12-16-0-2) on Wednesday.
Their next home game is set for this Friday at 7:30 p.m. against those same North Stars.