Lakers active early in the offseason

By Allan Bradbury
Staff Writer

While the Lakers’ season ended on March 31, the SIJHL season concluded just last week with the Kam River Fighting Walleye taking the Bill Salonen Cup over the Thunder Bay North Stars. The Lakers have jumped out to an active start to their offseason.

Fort Frances Lakers defenceman Darnell Kempf visited Donald Young School in Emo last week as the Lakers launched their Kickstart Reading Program.

The Lakers are hoping to show local students the importance of literacy while also getting to meet with their local hockey heroes.

According to a release from the Lakers, “Kempf spent time reading, signing autographs, and of course, talking hockey with local students.”

One Grade 5 student said “We got to learn new stuff about the Lakers, we had our hats and baseballs signed, and we liked Darnell reading to us.”

Lakers head coach Tyler Miller is a teacher at Seven Generations Education Institute and worked to develop the program.

“Lakers players have a unique opportunity as role models in our community to give back especially with our youth,” Miller said. “The goal of our new coaching staff is to provide as many Lakers players as possible with the opportunity to play hockey at the university or college level should they choose. Literacy skills play a major role in a successful post-secondary hockey career and developing those skills starts in elementary school.”

The Lakers have previously engaged with local schools this spring, the Lakers spent time at

Pegamigaabo School in Big Grassy River First Nation, and Mikinaak Onigaming School.

Miller is hoping to grow the program and have players visit more schools across the region this fall and do activities which encourage physical activity and promote reading.

Anyone with questions about the program or to have them visit a school can contact Miller at

The Lakers also announced this week that former Lakers goaltender Mason Meyer has committed to Rivier University in Nashua New Hampshire for the 2023 season.

Fort Frances Lakers defenceman Darnell Kempf reads to a Donald Young School class on Thursday, May 4, 2023. Members of the Lakers have wasted no time being active in the community this offseason, starting with some events this past week. —Submitted photo

A native of Lakeville, MN, Meyer played for the Lakers during the 2021-22 season recording a .902 save percentage over 24 games. He split last season with the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Aurora Tigers and the United States Premier Hockey League’s Northern Cyclones. He finished the season with a .928 save percentage over 19 games.

Of his time with the Lakers, Meyer said “Playing for the Lakers helped me develop as a goalie and as a person. I lived with amazing billets who helped me grow as a human. On the ice, I was given the opportunity to play games and continue to learn how to battle and find ways to make saves. My experience in Fort Frances helped me become the goalie and person I am today. I’m grateful for my time there.”

According to a release from the Lakers, the Rivier Raiders are looking to bounce back from a tough 2022-23 season that saw them go 8-15-2 in NCAA’s Division III.

Last week, current Lakers player Darnell Kempf and coaches Tyler Miller and Luke Judson also participated in the walk for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls on Rainy River First Nations.

The Lakers Annual General Meeting will take place next Monday on May 15 at 7 p.m. in the meeting room at the Super 8 Hotel. They are hoping to see anyone interested in volunteering with the team out to the meeting. There will be elections for board of directors positions as well as a statement of the team’s financial position. They ask all people interested in seeing Junior A hockey sustained in the District to come out.