Lakers working on building up roster

Lucas Punkari

With their annual summer development camp in International Falls just a month away, the Fort Frances Lakers continue on the recruiting trail as they work on setting their roster for the 2013-14 SIJHL season.
“We probably started through the playoffs on recruiting the top guys that we have wanted,” noted Lakers’ head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan.
“Now we are just going through the process where so many kids are looking at different places this time of year, so we are now waiting to hear back from many of the guys that we have recruited,” he added.
One of the biggest challenges Strachan will face this season is the change Hockey Canada made to its import rules, which means the Lakers will have to make some roster adjustments when it comes to the number of players they have from south of the border.
“We’re only allowed seven imports on the team,” Strachan said.
“And while any player from Canada is no longer deemed an import if they come from another Junior ‘A’ league, anyone outside of the country is an import even if they played on your team the year before,” he explained.
“We have nine imports that we can return from a year ago, and we are still waiting for the decisions from our veteran players about their plans, along with trying to recruit some higher-end American players that we feel can help out team,” Strachan added.
“We’ll be crunching our numbers to try and fit those players into our seven slots.”
Another change in the way teams in the SIJHL will be building their rosters stems from the fact the league’s player draft, and each team’s protected players list, were done away with in a decision made during the league’s annual general meeting in Thunder Bay over the weekend.
“The reasoning behind the change was that there were teams that were abusing the system by drafting or protecting players that they had no chance of getting, and selling them for a high player development fee,” Strachan noted.
“In the end, that may help us in securing local area talent.
“And the changes were also made to help the [expansion] English River Miners have a fair shot at all of the talent in Northwestern Ontario,” he added.
While Strachan is hoping to announce his team’s first off-season signing in the coming days, two members of last season’s runner-up squad already have decided where they will be playing next season.
“Jordan Christianson, who is a graduating forward, has signed to play with the Concordia College Cobbers, who are in the MIAC and are based in Moorhead, Mn.,” he said.
“Goaltender Jameson Shortreed, who could have returned for us, has decided to go to school and will be playing for the Briercrest Clippers in Caronport, Sask.”
When it comes to the Lakers’ other graduating players, Strachan said Merritt Rysavy and Tanner Hamilton are close to making a decision for what they’ll be doing next season.
Jacob Nolan, Davis Smith, and Brendan Cawston, meanwhile, all have decided to go to school and start their education, he noted.
Prior to the Lakers’ developmental camp, which will take place July 19-21 at Bronco Arena over in the Falls, the team will hold its annual general meeting next Tuesday (June 25) at 7 p.m. at the Fort Frances Volunteer Bureau (old CN station).
On the fundraising front, the squad will hold its third-annual Bob Mainville Golf Tournament on Saturday, July 6 at Heron Landing Golf Course on Couchiching.
Those looking to register for that event can do so at Heron Landing or by contacting Strachan at wayne@fortfranceslakers.com