Big crowd sees Lakers surprise Norskies in shootout

THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. – Jaedin Ness scored the lone goal in the shootout while Brett Akins made a combined 42 saves as the Fort Frances Lakers surprised the Superior International Junior Hockey League-leading Thief River Falls Norskies 2-1 Saturday in front of a season-high crowd of 2,971 at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

After a scoreless first period, Fort Frances picked up the lone marker of the second stanza as Adam Withers picked up his fourth tally of the season at 11:03 to put the visitors up by one after 40 minutes.

Thief River Falls came back to tie it in the third as Parker Simonson capitalized on a man advantage opportunity with 8:18 remaining in regulation to help force overtime.

When the five-minute OT failed to produce a winner, extra shots were needed to decide it.

Akins and his Norskies counterpart Bailey Schmitz were equal to the task in facing the first three shooters per side to send it to a fourth round.

Shooting first there Ness skated in an snapped a shot that found its way between the body and arm of Schmitz before the puck trickled across the goal line.

Needing to score to extend it, Simonson came in for Thief River Falls, but Akins was ready as the Lakers’ netminder made a quick poke check to thwart the chance and give the visitors the win.

Akins made 38 stops through 65 minutes of action then handled all four attempts he saw in the shootout to record a well-deserved victory for Fort Frances.

Schmitz ended up with 23 saves as well as three more in extra chances to help his side pick-up a point in the standings.

Photo credit: Allison Garrigan