The monkey is gone.
A night after collapsing in the second half and dropping a 5-4 overtime decision to the Thunder Bay North Stars, the Fort Frances Lakers held on to capture their first victory of 2012-13.
And they did it in convincing fashion.
“It took us awhile. What’s this, our fifth game? We finally got it. We had chances in our other five games, but it feels great to finally pop that first one,” said forward Jordan Christianson, an International Falls, Minn. native who had a goal and an assist in the one-sided 6-1 triumph.
“We made some big strides throughout practice and throughout the games and finally were able to do it.”
It was all a matter of bringing the right mindset to the rink, he added.
“Last night we made a big stride in a game I think we should have won, and then we brought that tonight and finally things went our way for once,” Christianson said, his team now 1-3-1.
The North Stars, who fell to 5-2-0 after the Fort William Gardens loss, didn’t do themselves any favours, taking 14 penalties and giving the Lakers 13 power play opportunities.
It’s something Thunder Bay forward Matt Kaarela, who scored on a breakaway while the Stars were short two men in the third, said he and his teammates need to work on going forward.
“It’s hard to play from behind when you’re down a man and we just have to work on it as a team, staying out of the box. All of us just need to try to suck it up and not get in the box,” he said.
North Stars coach Kevin Kahoot was in full concurrence, saying the bad habits have to stop.
“It’s something we have to deal with in our dressing room and we have to learn to rise above those kind of nights and find a way to win,” Kahoot said.
“You’re looking at almost half the game shorthanded. You’re not going to win many hockey games like that. We have to find a way to hold our composure, be a lot more disciplined. Our team, we’re a fast-skating, well-disciplined team. When we stick to that type of hockey, we’re going to be successful.
“Playing the type of games that we played Friday and again Saturday, it’s not our brand of hockey.”
Davis Smith started the Lakers on the road to victory with the only goal of the first period, roofing his own rebound past North Stars goalie Bruce Corrigal at 8:35.
Kevin Kurm doubled the Fort Frances lead in the second on the power play, the first of two man-advantage goals the Lakers would get on the night.
Brendan Cawston and Merritt Rysavy connected two minutes apart to start the third to extend the Fort Frances lead to 4-0, before Kaarela snapped Tanner Hamilton’s shutout bid at 6:09. But try as they might, the North Stars couldn’t find the mesh again, and Christianson and Mason Meyer put it away with goals three minutes apart at 10:57 and 13:48.
Fort Frances coach Wayne Strachan said he told his team they couldn’t afford to let up after Friday night’s mishap.
This time they listened.
“I thought we for the most part played 45 or 50 (minutes last night). Tonight I thought we played a pretty strong 60 minutes and using our skills that they have and taking advantage of some of their breakdowns,” said Strachan, who leads his team into Duluth before heading back to Fort Frances.
“Our power play kind of let us down last night, but clicked in tonight with two power play goals, so it was good.”
Scoring: 1. Fort Frances, Smith (Nolan, Leishman) 8:35. Penalties: Tuneberg (cross checking) 1:57, Kahoot TB (elbowing) 6:16, Kaarela TB (slashing) 9:18, Cawston FF (hooking) 13:07, Brekke FF (interference) 13:48, Davidson TB (tripping) 17:09.
Scoring: 2. Fort Frances, Kurm (Nolan)12:04 pp. Penalties: Mascarin TB (tripping) 7:13, Prout TB (holding) 9:55. Ma. Fox TB (high sticking) 11:41, Fosty FF (charging) 13:41, Bench minor FF (too many men) 16:39, Martyn TB (high sticking) 18:59.
Scoring: 3. Fort Frances, Cawston (Christianson, Fosty) 2:23. 4. Fort Frances, Rysavy (Fosty, Carlson) 4:35. 5. Thunder Bay, Kaarela (unassisted) 6:09 sh. 6. Fort Frances, Christianson (Spicer,) 10:57. 7. Fort Frances, Meyer (Sofer, Nolan) 13:48 pp. Penalties: Bench minor TB (unsportsmanlike conduct), Martyn TB (high sticking) 5:05, Maggrah FF (interference) 8:16, Kaarela TB (roughing) 12:39, Ma. Fox TB (cross checking) 13:24, Bruess FF, Kahoot TB (roughing, misconduct), Martyn TB (roughing) 14:58,Kaarela TB (high sticking) 16:56.
GAME DATA – SOG – Fort Frances 12-9-18-39, Thunder Bay 12-10-5-27; Power plays (goals-chances) – Fort Frances (2-13), Thunder Bay (0-6); Goaltenders – Fort Frances: Tanner Hamilton, Thunder Bay – Bruce Corrigal; A: 300 (estimated).
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