The Red Lake Miners have proven to be a tough challenge for the Fort Frances Lakers over the last few seasons—and that's not likely to change anytime soon.
The Miners have been one of the hottest teams in the SIJHL of late, winning three-straight to sit in third-place in the six-team league with a 3-1-0-0 record.
Fort Frances, meanwhile, has been impressive in winning four of its first six games to start the season and currently sits in second spot (4-2-0-0), just three points behind the first-place Thunder Bay North Stars (5-0-1-0).
The Lakers are slated to face the Miners in back-to-back games at the Cochenour Arena this Friday and Saturday and head coach/general manager Wayne Strachan knows his squad will be in tough.
“It will be a big weekend," he noted. ”The Miners are playing well having won three in a row.
“And it is never easy to go into their rink and have success," Strachan added. "They have a motto of [being] resilient and in the games I have viewed, they are sticking to it.”
“We will need to be prepared and ready,” he warned.
The Lakers head into this week's two-game set versus the Miners having split their games over the weekend.
Fort Frances fell 4-2 by the fourth-place Thief River Falls Norskies (3-3-0-0) here Friday night before rebounding with a 5-0 shutout of the winless Iron Rangers (0-5-0-0) the following night in Hoyt Lakes.
Strachan wasn't happy with how his squad competed in the loss to the Norskies on Friday, but felt they did a much better job Saturday night against the Iron Rangers.
“We had a different mindset, attitude, and focus through the game,” he said of Saturday night's effort compared to the home loss Friday.
"I felt Matt Booth had a strong performance and made key saves we needed him to.
“I thought our back end played much better in front of Matt and contributed nicely with three of the five goals,” Strachan added.
“I [also] thought Reece Hopfner played his best game since joining the team.”
Hopfner scored his first goal as a Laker and added two assists, while Booth earned his first SIJHL shutout, to pace Fort Frances to victory Saturday night.
The Lakers opened the scoring two-and-a-half minutes into the first period on defenceman