Lakers hold off late Norskies’ rally to win in shootout

THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. – The Fort Frances Lakers let a three-goal lead slip away, but eventually regrouped and edged the Thief River Falls Norskies 4-3 Wednesday in a Superior International Junior Hockey League match-up at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Fort Frances got off to a great start by jumping out to a 2-0 lead before the contest was five and a half minutes old on markers from Jaedin Ness and Kirk Coppock.

Ness then notched his second of the night and fourth overall 4:39 into the second stanza to put the visitors up by three.

Blake Nelson put the Norskies on the board though at 8:49 to cut into the deficit to make it a 3-1 game after two periods of play.

It stayed that way until 14:27 of the third when Mason McIntosh scored for Thief River Falls to narrow the margin even more.

They then tied it with under two minutes remaining in regulation as Brett Piper picked up his team-leading ninth tally to help send it to overtime.

After a scoreless OT session, extra shots were required to determine a winner where it went through six rounds before the outcome was confirmed.

In the regular three rounds of the shootout, each team connected once with Nick Lucas converting for the Lakers while Brett Piper did likewise for the Norskies.

After failing to produce a result in rounds four and five, Mackenzie Flett won it for Fort Frances as his attempt eluded Thief River Falls goaltender Bailey Schmitz.

Lucas and Brett Hahkala had two assists each for the Lakers in the triumph as did Alec Daman of the Norskies.

Jacob Gnidziejko made 37 stops to record the win for Fort Frances as well as five of six in the shootout.

Schmitz made 26 saves for the home side in the setback and four more in extra shots.

Photo credit: Tim Benton