Are the Lakers ready for their close-up?

This week, and from time to time in this space, I will offer up a variety of short updates, thoughts, ideas, and opinions for your reading pleasure.
I do this for two reasons: it takes cares of some housecleaning for sports items that deserve print space but not necessarily a whole story—and I need another week to figure out my highly-anticipated predictions for the upcoming NFL season.
Highly anticipated, at least, by those of you who care about the NFL and would like to remind me of my incompetence in the prediction side of this business about five months from now.
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The main training camp for the Fort Frances Lakers gets underway Aug. 29 with a bevy of blade warriors looking to impress the coaching staff and earn their spot on the roster for the 2013/14 season.
Going into every junior hockey season is always intriguing, but this one especially so. With the three-time defending SIJHL champion Wisconsin/Minnesota Wilderness joining the NAHL circuit for the upcoming campaign, the door is wide open for a new team to move in and become the league’s top dog.
The Lakers would appear to be the prime candidate for that job, having made it to the Bill Salonen Cup final the past two seasons before falling to the Wilderness.
But is Fort Frances, like Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard,” ready for its close-up?
(You’ll find I enjoy the opportunity to culture you with my movie and musical references in this space from time to time. You’re welcome. That was another reference, by the way, for the WWE wrestling fans out there).
At first glance, the Lakers’ challengers for SIJHL domination seem limited. The Wisconsin Wilderness, circa 2013, is a new collection of players that bears no resemblance to the league titans of similar name in recent seasons.
The English River Miners make their franchise debut this season, which makes rising to the top of the league charts unlikely for the Ear Falls contingent.
The Thunder Bay North Stars, meanwhile, have lost their lustre from their championship days as the Fort William North Stars. The Minnesota Iron Rangers and the Dryden Ice Dogs came up short in last year’s semi-finals.
But so many questions remain unanswered. Can the Fort fill the skates of their offensive stars who have moved on? Can the defence corps maintain a solid presence within its own zone and also provide an added punch from the point?
Can the goaltending be consistent enough over not just the regular season, but any possible playoff run to push Fort Frances to that championship level?
Watching it all unfold should make for some compelling nights at the rink for the Laker faithful.
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The Border Skating Club will hold a bake sale/yard sale this Saturday (Aug. 24) from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. in the front parking lot of the Bayview Motel.
The event will serve as a fundraiser for the club and a really fun day for all attending is promised, with raffle draws, sno-cones and balloons for the kids, and free coffee for the adults.
(If you’re an adult who really wants a sno-cone, I’m sure something can be worked out. Just don’t try and take my grandchildren’s sno-cones, unless you want irate youngsters on your hands).
Donations for the sale can be dropped off at the Bayview Motel before Saturday or brought down on the day of the sale.
For more information, call Catherine Hyatt at 275-7002. And save me a cookie on Saturday.
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Don’t forget about junior Muskie football registration tonight (Aug. 21) at 6 p.m. at the high school football field.
The program is open to Grade 7 and 8 boys and girls (don’t raise your eyebrows—I’ve witnessed some excellent female football players in my time).
The cost is $140, and players are reminded to bring copies of their birth certificate and health card when they register.
This program epitomizes the grassroots approach that’s needed by every successful football organization. These are the Muskies of tomorrow and their hard work will pay big dividends for future high school squads.
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Registration also is just around the corner for the Fort Frances Girls/Women’s Hockey Association.
It will take place Aug. 29-30 from 6-8 p.m. at the Memorial Sports Centre. Those wanting to play also can register online at once the website has been updated to include this year’s registration form.
All players must bring a copy of their birth certificate when they go to register.
The season begins the last week of September and will end next March.
A call for coaches also is being put out to fill impending vacancies behind the bench.
For more information, call Wendy DeGagne (274-1121) or Ron MacKinnon (274-2619).
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And in case you still haven’t had your fill of registration news, the local badminton season is about to get into full swing (OK, bad badminton pun).
The 2013-14 Fort Frances Badminton Club youth and adult program will take place at Robert Moore School every Monday and Wednesday starting Sept. 30.
Juniors (under age 13) will take the court from 6-7:15 p.m., with the senior and adult group (13-and-over) taking over from 7:15-8:30 p.m.
The cost for the September-May season for junior and senior students is $180, which includes their FFBC tournament fee and insurance. The cost for adults is $90, which also includes insurance.
Limited entries are available, with the registration deadline set for Sept. 16 (no late registrations will be accepted).
As well, the FFBC recreational badminton program will take place Fridays at the Fort High gym from 6:30-9:30 p.m. starting in September.
Fees are $20 per year for adults, which includes two starter badminton birds, and $10 for children under age 18. If a child also is registered for the Monday/Wednesday program, there is no charge if their parent or guardian pays the adult fee.
For more information on either program, contact Shari or Louis Bujold at 274-7410.