Monday, October 20, 2014

Lakers to play five pre-season games

The SIJHL champions aren’t too far away from getting their first test of the upcoming season.
Now the squad hopes it will have a roof to put over each of its players’ heads before then.

With what promises to be a significantly different-looking roster than the one that captured the Bill Salonen Cup this past spring, the Fort Frances Lakers will polish their skills for the upcoming regular season with a five-game exhibition schedule.
The Lakers’ main training camp begins tomorrow and wraps up Saturday at the Ice for Kids Arena, with the squad’s first challenge set for Sept. 5 at 7:30 p.m. against the Minnesota Iron Rangers—the foe they vanquished in a thrilling seven-game final last season.
The following night, the Lakers will welcome the English River Miners for another 7:30 p.m. start before heading on the road for their final three tune-ups.
They’ll be in Hoyt Lakes, Mn. on Sept. 9 to face the Iron Rangers, then head to Marathon on Sept. 11 for a tilt against the newly-renamed Dryden GM Ice Dogs.
The squad will conclude its pre-season schedule Sept. 14 in Ear Falls against the Miners.
Meanwhile, Lakers’ general manager and head coach Wayne Strachan is putting out the call for local residents to serve as billets for the team, which appears to be shaping up without much—if any—local talent on the roster.
“Our once-promising numbers in camp have dwindled with local players backing out of main camp, some younger guys choosing to stay in the area Midget programs, and some older players going to other junior teams that could guarantee them a spot on the roster,” Strachan explained.
“So from camp, we will look at still having 23-25 players going into exhibition, and we will be keeping our eye on some recruits who are in other places right now to strengthen our roster that way,” he noted.
“[We] won’t necessarily finalize our regular-season roster until after our exhibition game on Sept. 14.”
With Fort natives Hunter Leishman (Drummondville Voltigeurs) and Cam Gobeil (work commitments), along with SIJHL scoring champ Lucas DeBenedet from International Falls (Minot Minotauros) not returning this season, Strachan admitted there may not be much of a hometown connection between the fans and this year’s Lakers’ team.
“It’s unfortunate as we are the top team in our local area to develop with,” he remarked.
“But with [the local players’ departure] happening, we are in need of more billet families and hope potential people will understand and open their doors to be a part of the Lakers’ program,” he added.
The Lakers will open the regular season here Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m. against the Thunder Bay North Stars.
The team will be selling season tickets at the Ice For Kids Arena today through Saturday.
Flex packs for specific groups of games will be on sale at the Lakers’ two home exhibition games.

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