Wayne Strachan’s shopping list just got a little longer and much tougher to fill.
The Fort Frances Lakers’ head coach and general manager will have to adjust to life next season without high-scoring forward Lucas DeBenedet, who signed with the NCAA Division III Northland College Lumberjacks (Ashland, Wis.) of the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference.
The 19-year-old from International Falls was the SIJHL’s rookie-of-the-year in 2013-14.
He was a finalist for the league’s MVP award for the second-straight season this past year while receiving his second-consecutive berth on the league’s first all-star team.
DeBenedet was slated to be the Lakers’ top returning point-getter this fall after ranking second on the squad with 22 goals and 36 assists for 58 points in 40 games after starting the season with the Minot (N.D.) Minotauros of the NAHL.
The play-making centre added three assists in two playoff games before a leg injury caused him to miss the Lakers’ final nine games in their march to a second-straight Bill Salonen Cup.
DeBenedet returned for the start of the Dudley Hewitt Cup here—winding up third on the team with two goals and two assists in five games.
He finishes his stint with the Lakers third on the team’s all-time scoring list with 170 regular-season points, behind Byron Katapaytuk (175) and Mason Meyer (174).
DeBenedet’s departure means Lakers now have lost their top five regular-season scorers, who combined for 280 points this past year.
That leaves Dylan Kooner (45 points) as the team’s leading eligible returning scorer.