Withers sets up 3 as Fort Frances holds off Thunder Bay

THUNDER BAY, Ont. – The Fort Frances Lakers built up a four-goal lead then withstood a Thunder Bay North Stars comeback bid before eventually prevailing with a 5-3 victory in Superior International Junior Hockey League play Wednesday night at the Fort William Gardens.

The visiting Lakers picked up the lone tally of the first period six and a half minutes in on the 15th goal of the season from Jaedin Ness.

Fort Frances then struck three times before the middle stanza was half done on markers from Jack Bernie, Ian Tookenay and Christian Ward to chase Thunder Bay starter Brandon Bodnar in favour of Dougie Newhouse.

The goaltending change seemed to boost the North Stars as they came back 55 seconds later to get on the board on Troy Sherman’s ninth of the campaign.

Both teams would tighten up defensively from there through the rest of the session as the Lakers took a 4-1 lead into the third.

Battling back, Thunder Bay moved to within two at 3:36 as Dillon Ward picked up his 12th to pull the home side closer.

The North Stars continued to press the pace and were rewarded with under eight minutes to go as captain Joe Newhouse connected from the point to make it a 4-3 game.

Thunder Bay then pulled Newhouse in the late going in favour of an extra attacker in an effort to try and force overtime, but Nick Lucas iced it for Fort Frances with a long range empty netter at 19:25 to wrap-up the win for the visitors.

Adam Withers had a big night for the Lakers picking up three assists in the victory.

Fort Frances netminder Ismael Ralsten made 23 saves to record the win.

Bodnar suffered the loss for the North Stars allowing four against on just seven shots while Newhouse handled all nine attempts he saw in relief.

Photo credit: Gary Moskalyk