On January 3rd in Fort Frances, Ontario, the fifth place (6-19-1-1) Fort Frances Lakers opened up their 2018 portion of the 2017 – 2018 Superior International Junior Hockey League season when they played host to the sixth place (2-23-1-2) Minnesota Iron Rangers at the Ice for Kids Arena. The Lakers were looking for their first win in eleven games heading into Wednesday evening match – up to open 2018. Fort Frances last win came at home with a 5 – 3 win over the Iron Rangers back on November 10th.
6:26 into 2018 SIJHL action, Joel Nagy opened the scoring with a goal behind Laker goaltender Brett Akin to give the Iron Rangers a 1 – 0 lead with a pass from Eli Kinsman. At 11:02 of the first, Nagy fires his second of the contest to give the visitors a 2 – 0 lead with a Minnesota unassisted goal. With the Lakers on a power play Ian Jarvis sinks his fifth of the season to pull Fort Frances within one at 15:43 of the first with Charlie Wilkie adding the helper on Jarvis’ power play marker. Minnesota’s Clayton Brown sends a pass to Mark Sanchez to increase the Iron Ranger’s lead to 3 – 1 with 11:12 of the middle stanza. Sanchez gives the Iron Rangers a 4 – 1 lead at 18:15 of the period for his second of the game with Kinsman setting up Sanchez’s goal. With an unassisted goal and his seventh of the season, Hunter Buzzi closes the gap to two with 1:08 remaining in the second. 1:22 into the final period, Laker Jaedin Ness finds the back of Minnesota’s net for his 14th of the season on Fort Frances second unassisted goal of the contest.
Registering a hat trick and giving the Iron Rangers a 5 – 2 lead was Minnesota’s Sanchez at 5:43 of the period with Brown and Kinsman adding the helpers on Sanchez’s third. Scoring his third of season on a Fort Frances power play, Anthony Antonelli finds the back of the visitors net for the Lakers third of the game at 7:19 of the third with a pass from Adam Withers. Adam Withers sinks his second as a Laker 47 seconds past the halfway mark of the period with Fort Frances third to close the gap to two with Jarvis adding the assist. Minnesota’s Anthony Beltrame and Brown had the contributors on Kinsman goal 12:12 into the third to give the Iron Rangers a 6 – 5 lead.
With time ticking down and 16 seconds left on the scoreboard, Fort Frances Julian Uhryniuk sends a pass to Jaedin Ness to even the game 6 – 6 to send the game into overtime. Clayton Brown had the lone goal in the Iron Ranger shootout win over the Lakers. Fort Frances goaltender Brett Akin stopped 21 of 27 shots in the Lakers 11th straight loss.
Laker coach Wayne Strachan told the Junior Hockey Network that “I feel our first period hurt us we turned the puck over far to often and they lead to them getting the lead. We showed good character in battling back and tying the game before the end of the third. After the first we were definitely the better team in the end their goalie made some key saves and we had some unfortunate break downs.”
Fort Frances will head to Dryden, Ontario on January 6th to meet the Ice Dogs in a 7:30 p.m start.