Lakers sign pair of forwards

Lucas Punkari

The Fort Frances Lakers continue to build their roster for the 2011/12 season, signing local forward Jordan Larson and re-signing forward Henry Gutierrez.
Larson, who took part in the Lakers’ rookie camp in International Falls over the weekend, was acquired from the Duluth Clydesdales following the SIJHL draft last month.
He also was selected by the Soo Greyhounds in the 12th round of the OHL priority selection back in May.
“He’s a player that is very dynamic on offence, and he is a kid the reads the ice really well,” Lakers’ head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan said of the 16-year old.
“I don’t think it’ll be too long for him to be putting up the numbers that will not only help himself, but also our team, and what we are looking for from him is to be just as steady as he can be,” Strachan added.
In 59 games for the Thunder Bay Kings last season, Larson led his team in scoring with 43 goals and 43 assists.
As for Gutierrez, who hails from East Grand Forks, Mn., he’ll be returning to Fort Frances for a third season, having accumulated 24 goals and 16 assists in 107 regular-season games with the Lakers.
“I like it here and the team has been really good to me,” said Gutierrez, who also took part in the Lakers’ camp over the weekend.
“I want to be a team leader this year and help everyone out, motivate the other players, and help get the team going by doing whatever I can,” Gutierrez pledged.
After notching 22 points in 55 games during the regular season, Gutierrez had a red-hot playoff run, netting six goals in 10 games to finish in a tie for the team lead in post-season scoring.
“I’m definitely wanting to build off of that performance,” Gutierrez stressed.
“We have a couple of good guys coming back and we have a lot good talent coming here, as well, which we saw this weekend,” he added.
“I think we have a good shot to do well once again this year.”
“It’s very important for us to have Henry back for a number of reasons,” said Strachan.
“He’s probably one of the top defensive players in the league, his speed is right up there in top tier of the league, and he is probably one of, if not the best penalty-killer in the league.
“In my personal view, he was our MVP in the playoffs, and I’m kind of eager to see if his offensive outburst can carry over into this season,” Strachan added.
Larson and Gutierrez join fellow forwards Byron Katapaytuk, Blake Boaz, Ryan Wildman, and Payton Ruter as players the Lakers have signed so far this off-season.