Our mission is a berth in Dudley Hewitt Cup

After plenty of time now to reflect on the end of the 2010-11 season, and look back and evaluate how our team grew, it was a huge success.
Yes, many people will say, well, we ended the same way we did a year earlier—and that is very true. But you can’t take away a lot from this season and say our players improved as a team, individually, and became one unit.
We improved 20-plus wins and our 34 victories were the most by any Fort Frances-based franchise to play in the SIJHL. Our 71 points, meanwhile, was the second-highest behind the Borderland Thunder’s 73 in the 2002-03 season.
Our power play led the league at a rate of 24.30 percent. We improved from fifth place to finish in second—a huge jump and a big accomplishment for the members of the team.
As well, we slashed our goals against by 69 percent for the season, which says volumes for our improvement defensively and our accountability.
We had several individuals improve from last year as they came into the new season prepared and in shape to improve their game. This paid off as many of our players vied for individual awards for the SIJHL.
So, our team improvement—and the players’ improvement—were noted around the league.
We learned to become a team this past season. The camaraderie we had, and the dedication the players had for one another, was great to see. I honestly can say this is the closest team I have coached at this level.
They wanted to win for each other, not for their own benefit.
It certainly paid off for many of our graduating 20-year-olds as all seven of them have interest to pursue their careers at higher levels. To name a few so far that have committed to schools for next season, Dan Smith will be going to Bethel in Minnesota while Matt Caulfield will be attending St. Olaf in Minnesota (both of the MIAC conference in NCAA Division III).
As well, Morgan McNeill will be heading to Ryerson in Toronto, which plays in the CIS.
The other four players are looking to solidify their options shortly. Tyler Stevenson, for instance, leaves his junior career and SIJHL legacy in the top three of all time in power-play goals with 29.
It doesn’t stop there. Many of our younger players who can return next season are opening eyes at schools and other hockey avenues. Many people probably don’t know this but we had scouts from both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks at several of our games during January and February.
It says a lot for our organization, what our program offers, plus the abilities of our staff and players.
Our staff is on a mission right now—with our goal to be in the final of the SIJHL and remain in the top tier of the league. “A Mission for the Final” is our sole goal after two years of being bounced in the semi-finals.
From the first day when main camp opens in late August, that will be what we, as a team, will be gunning for, along with a berth in the Dudley Hewitt Cup, which will be held in Thunder Bay next year.
• • •
I would like to thank many people on behalf of the team, including the board of directors for their endless work, the fan club for all of its help, the sponsors (as without you believing in our organization, we would not exist), our many volunteers who take time out of their lives to help in many ways, and our supporters/fans who again were the best in the SIJHL.
We recently held our annual fish fry and it was a huge success. It was a great showing thanks to the awesome job done by the fundraising committee.
I have to thank my family, the Bird family, and the many others who put forth their time to make this a huge success (Wayne Allen, Dale and Mary Cooper, Tess’s Kitchen, Mary Polz, and the Nobles to name a few).
It’s events like this that will keep the team alive and here for a long time for the benefit of the community and the hockey players who come to be a part of our community over the winter months.
You may not agree with all the decisions that are made within the organization, but this team is for the community. It brings business to our community, good entertainment, and chance for local hockey players, as well as those from across North America with Junior ‘A’ ability, to play in a strong community environment to strive for their goals in life.
It’s a good thing for the community—and there are many good hockey players, both present and future from our community, who will have the chance to further their careers if the Lakers stay around.
So please keep supporting our community team and have a great summer!

Posted in Uncategorized