The Fort Frances Lakers are still struggling to find their identity, because they have played so few games but head coach Bernie Lynch he said that he is happy with the progress they have made.
“You try to give the player as much creativity and openness to do what they want, but I think overall each player has improved to the point that it’s making the team better.”
The Lakers went undefeated in their last five games. The team played against the Kenora Thistles U18 AAA and are now on a two-week mandatory break to make sure that the players are in good health before moving forward with the rest of the season.
Lynch said the team struggled a little with their games at home but played well on the road.
“With so many new faces in the lineup, trying to get everybody to work together and understand a new coach and a new way of doing things, it’s been a challenge but we’re making progress,” Lynch said.
He gives praise to the team for stepping up and playing well in their last few games, highlighting centerman Cade Mozell, left wings James Pedersen and Nakoda Thunderchief, and defenseman Presten Bobyk and Matt Dyck.
The Lakers are now getting ready for their schedule in the new year, which Lynch said has been a challenge because of COVID protocols, but he is hoping to get one practice in before they return to the ice.
Despite the teams winning streak, Lynch said some are predicting them to be in last place, but he is ready to prove them wrong.
Lynch said they picked up some new players via trade in early November and they have three or four new players that will be joining them for their upcoming games that he said will help strengthen the depth of the team.
“Instead of having one or two lines going out, you’re going to have three or four good lines going out,” Lynch said.
Due to COVID restrictions, Lynch said there is no physical contact allowed, leaving the players to use their skill and speed to win the game.
Emphasizing speed and skill is something that Lynch said he is trying to enforce on the players in order to improve how they play as a team and individually. He adds that this will also set them up for opportunities to play higher levels of hockey after the season.
Lynch said their goal is to make it to the playoffs, but for right now, they are focussing on the games ahead.
The Lakers have 16 games lined up after the break, with their first game against the Thunder Bay North Stars.