Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lakers could lose top gun

The ball—or puck, as it were—is in Lucas DeBenedet’s court.
Last year’s scoring sensation for the Fort Frances Lakers is facing a decision that will impact not only his own hockey future, but the Lakers’ fortunes for the upcoming SIJHL season.

The 19-year-old forward from International Falls, who led the league last year with 48 goals and 112 points, was drafted in the second round (30th overall) by the Minot (N.D.) Minotauros in the NAHL’s entry draft held June 2.
So, to paraphrase the classic hit by The Clash, will he stay or will he go now?
“It’s up to Lucas at this point,” said Lakers’ general manager and head coach Wayne Strachan.
“Our program is committed to him and would like to see him back wearing No. 16 for another season.
“Lucas has expressed interest in pursuing Minot, so I guess we will wait and see after their main camp in July how things turn out,” Strachan added.
On the positive side, Strachan can count on having his best post-season performer from last year’s championship run back in the fold after announcing the re-signing of forward Miles Nolan last week.
The Geraldton native was named the Gongshow Gear Playoff MVP after leading the SIJHL in scoring in the post-season with 15 points in 13 games.
“The team is very excited to have Miles back in the lineup for next season,” Strachan said about the 20-year-old, who had only 10 goals and 18 assists in 52 regular-season games before his superb playoff run.
“He had a break-out offensive campaign in last season’s playoffs and was a huge part of our success in the playoffs,” Strachan noted.
“We will look for Miles to further grow his offensive game and continue to be the character player that he brings day in and day out.
“He definitely will have to be a player we look to and a leader throughout the season,” stressed Strachan.
A new face in the Lakers’ lineup next season will be forward Matt Vela, who also was signed last week.
Vela played seven games with the Langley Rivermen of the BCHL, earning no points and six penalty minutes.
The 20-year-old native of Burnaby, B.C. finished the season with the North Vancouver Wolf Pack of the Pacific Junior Hockey League, but didn’t see any game action with them.
“We believe Matt will bring to our team strong leadership skills and a consistent physical presence up front that we can improve on from last season,” said Strachan.
“He is a high-energy player that can chip in offensively,” Strachan added.
“His work ethic is second-to-none and he is described as a player who can change the momentum of a game with his work habits and compete level.
“We are extremely pleased to have Matt join our Lakers’ program and family, and welcome him to the team,” enthused Strachan.

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