Depth carries Lakers to victory over Fargo North
For the first time this season, the Detroit Lakes' first line was shutout from scoring any points Tuesday against visiting Fargo North.
But the Spartans couldn't account for the Laker's second and third lines, as DL's depth pulled the team through with a 4-3 win over Fargo North inside Kent Freeman Arena.
"They won the game for us," said DL head coach Chris Denardo on his second and third lines. "Fargo North was heavy on our first line, they had a stick on our guys the entire game."
Sophomore forward and third-liner Alex Mason more than picked up the slack -- scoring twice in the game -- including a rebound power play goal at the 9:50 mark in the final period to put DL up 3-2.
"We just had some good puck movement and were passing it well," Mason said of his line play. "We were able to shoot the puck more. Fargo North liked to play the body more, so we just had to move the puck faster."
Second-liner junior center Andy Schupp gave the Lakers their insurance goal -- in which they needed -- just 37 seconds later after picking up a loose puck and sticking it past Spartan goalie John Hanson for the 4-2 advantage.
"The biggest thing the second and third line was move the puck and beating their man to the puck, as well," Denardo said. "They were doing the simple and small things right."
The Lakers (5-2) needed those lines to have their breakout games, since state-leading scorer junior forward Tanner Lane (16 goals in seven games) and line mates senior Alex Phelps (six goals and 16 assists) and Nate Baker (seven goals, nine assists) were being hounded by the Spartans throughout the game.
"Fargo North played some great defense on our first line," Denardo added.
The Lakers started the game with a solid first period and some good scoring opportunities on some one-timers and effective passing.
But Hanson was up to the task with 11 saves, wile DL goalie Andrew Friesen also had a shutout in the first with eight saves.
The Spartans broke the scoreless tie at the 6:36 mark on a shorthanded goal by Justis Garrett on a deflection off a shot by teammate Josh Nistler.
But Mason answered promptly after taking the puck through the Fargo North defense for a breakaway score at the 11:58 mark after some nifty moves down the right side of the Spartan ice gave him the upperdeck shot he wanted.
The third period had plenty of action, as DL took its first lead on a slapshot from the point by second-liner Brett Provo.
Spartan Nick Brenneman tied the game at 2-2 with a shot from the slot 9:50 into the third.
But Mason, who was using both his speed and strength to fend off defenders from the puck, picked up a rebound shot by Provo on a power play to put DL up 3-2.
Schupp's goal came off a perfectly played forecheck, in which he picked up the puck and zipped it past Hanson for the 4-2 commanding lead.
The Spartans pulled Hanson for an extra man on the ice, after both teams were killing off penalties.
The move paid dividends as Nistler gained control of the puck at center ice and put a shot on net, which found the five hole through Friesen legs to pull the Spartans within to 4-3.
"I'm sure Andrew wants that one back, but he played a solid game, I can't complain," Denardo added.
The Lakers survived the rest of the game, by allowing just two more shots on goal to close out the win.
But the fact that the second and third lines were able to carry the Lakers on this night, is a potential big boost for this 5-2 team.
"At the beginning of the season, the coaching staff had a goal of seeing points from all three lines," Denardo said. "If we can get that kind of production from out second and third lines, to go along with our first line, teams could be in trouble come playoff time."
The Lakers will be tested in the upcoming Fergus Falls Holiday Tournament Dec. 28-30.
DL opens against West Fargo Monday for a 2:30 p.m. start and will face Mankato West (2-5) Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.
The big rematch against the Otters is Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. as DL will look to revenge a 5-4 overtime loss to Fergus Falls (3-3-1) earlier this season.
"West Fargo could be one of the better teams in the Fargo area and the game against Fergus Falls is huge," Denardo said. "We are looking for a little pay back and it's also a big section game for us.
"If we can beat them and win their own tournament, we should be ahead of them in the section (rankings)."
Fargo North at Detroit Lakes, Tuesday, Dec. 22.
Spartans 0 1 2 - 3
Lakers 0 1 3 - 4
First period -- No scoring.
Second period -- 1. FN, SH Justis Garrett (UA); 2. DL, Alex Mason (UA) 11:58.
Third period -- 3. DL, Alex Deconcini (Brett Provo) 2:29; 4. FN, Nick Brenneman (Jacob McPhail) 2:48; 5. DL, PP Mason (Provo) 9:50; 6. DL, Andy Schupp (Chad Maristuen, Davis Johnson) 9:13; 7. FN, Josh Nistler (Jacob McPhail) 16:03.
Saves -- DL (Andrew Friesen) 8 7 16 - 31...FN (John Hanson) 11 10 4 - 25.