The red-hot Thunder Bay North Stars held off the visiting Fort Frances Lakers 3-2 in SIJHL action Saturday night to pull out their ninth-straight win.
An early power play helped Thunder Bay open the scoring six minutes into the game as Joel Willan netted in his 13th of the season, with assists going to Keigan Gerrie and Kyle Auger.
With the assist, Auger now has at least one point in all 19 regular-season games he has skated in for the North Stars.
The Lakers notched the equalizer later in the frame as Kirk Coppock was left with a tap-in following a goalmouth scramble for his ninth of the campaign.
The hosts retook the lead early in the second when Michael Stubbs knocked one in from close range past Lakers' goalie Jacob Gnidziejko.
After Jacob Anttonen made it 3-1 for the North Stars 3:03 into the third, the Lakers drew closer late thanks to a Jaedin Ness goal with 63 seconds left.
The Lakers then pressed for the equalizer but the North Stars held on from there to improve to a SIJHL-best 19-1-1-0.
Dougie Newhouse made 28 saves to earn the victory while Gnidziejko turned aside 37 in defeat.
Fort Frances fell to 9-13 with the loss but remains in fourth place with 18 points—one up on the fifth-place Dryden GM Ice Dogs (7-9-2-1).
The Red Lake Miners (16-4-1-0) occupy second place 33 points, followed by Thief River Falls (11-7-3-1) with 26.
The Minnesota Iron Rangers (2-20-0-0) remain mired in the basement with just four points.