Strachan pleased with training camp
Considering the calendar still said August, Wayne Strachan was pleased with the mid-season form he witnessed during the Fort Frances Lakers’ three-day main training camp, which wrapped up on Saturday.
“It was one of the best main camps we have had in years,” noted the Lakers’ general manager and head coach.
“But had some hard decisions to make in the end.”
The Lakers open their SIJHL pre-season schedule this Friday when they host the Minnesota Iron Rangers at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.
A total of 34 players attended the camp, with six invitees being absent. Strachan liked what we saw out of a number of his veteran returnees.
“I thought many of them showed promise for this season,” he remarked. “Early in camp, Bryce and Lyndon Lipinski with Patrick Sofer were flying as a line.
“As we mixed things up, Kevin Kurm and Mason Meyer started rolling and, in the last game, Miles Nolan came out flying.
“Hunter Leishman worked hard, as well, so it was good to see from our crop of vets that we are headed in the right direction to start the season,” Strachan said.
As for the fresh faces trying to carve their spots on the roster, Strachan highlighted some stand-out performers along the blueline.
“On defence, Billy Grillo had a good camp and we like what he will bring to the team,” declared Strachan.
“Tanner Fricke showed he has some skill to add to our defence core,” he added. “Aaron Wesley-Chisel had a good camp and will only grow as a player now that he is on the roster.
“Local player Brandon Sinclair has a steady demeanour about him that will help throughout the year.”
Strachan also lauded his first-year forwards.
“Up front, Torrin Grange comes to mind right away,” he said. “He is a big-body player who can skate and has good skill.
“Bryson Jaspers worked hard and scored a bunch of goals in camp to open the staff’s eyes.
“Darrick Howard is no stranger to the SIJHL and will bring speed and skill to the lineup, as well as some offensive punch,” Strachan added.
“[And] Jake Gevaart will get a long look as he was a bit banged up in camp.”
Another newcomer, Kevin Miller, missed camp due to family reasons. But Strachan is anticipating good things out of the forward, who joined the team yesterday.
“We hear he has a ton of speed and skill, and we’ll see what he can bring,” said Strachan.
The Lakers made it out of camp relatively unscathed health-wise, save for an assortment of minor bruises and cuts.
Veteran defenceman Cody Wickstrom was not in camp in preparation for medical tests he underwent yesterday. He was expected to join the team today.
“We expect him to be ready and be a big part of our back end,” Strachan stressed.
Strachan, meanwhile, will have his eye on various facets of his team’s play when they hit the ice for their initial competitive test against Minnesota.
“We will be looking to get our feet wet, so to speak,” he remarked. “We only have a handful of returnees so we need to get some chemistry going as a unit.
“If camp is any indication of an early assessment of our team, we need a goalie to stand up and take control of the ship,” noted Strachan.
“Our defence moves the puck well, but needs to be more physical in our end and pick up men.
“Up front, I believe you will see a lot of speed and skill,” he added. “Through the week, though, we need to pay attention to detail defensively.
“If we can shore up our play away from the puck in practice and in the beginning of the pre-season, especially in our own end, I believe we will be headed in the right direction to start the season.”
Strachan said no decision has been made on the starting goalie for Friday’s game.
“Whomever starts will play the full 60 minutes,” he pledged.