Lakers’ roster set for exhibition slate
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Wednesday, 5 September 2012 - 1:02pm
By Lucas Punkari, Staff writer
With this past weekend’s training camp in the books, the Fort Frances Lakers now are working on getting their systems into shape as they get ready for their exhibition schedule, which gets underway Friday night when the Dryden Ice Dogs visit the ’52 Canadians Arena at 7:30 p.m.
Heading into the opening day of practice yesterday morning, a total of 21 players were on the Lakers’ roster, although there still are a couple of players who will be coming to Fort Frances to play in the team’s first two exhibition games against Dryden.
“Right now, we have two goalies, five defencemen, and 14 forwards,” noted Lakers’ head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan.
“We are currently waiting to see what a local defenceman from camp is going to do in regards to his future, and we will have another defenceman joining us this week from the Winkler [Flyers] camp.
“We will also have a 19-year-old goalie coming from the Drumheller Dragons camp this week, as our goaltending and defence are two spots that we are still evaluating and looking to add depth to our team,” Strachan added.
The battle between the pipes proved to be the tightest during the five scrimmages held over the training camp as three netminders fought it out to earn a place alongside returning goalie Tanner Hamilton on the roster.
“Dustin Stevens, Tyler Gallagher, and Jordan MacDougall all showed some great play through the camp,” Strachan said.
“Gallagher was hot in the first couple of games, and MacDougall was very good in the last two games, but Stevens showed the most consistency throughout the camp to join Hamilton at this time.
“But we will continue to evaluate things this week and on the weekend,” Strachan stressed.
Meanwhile, on both offence and defence, a number of returning players and new faces made an impact during the five scrimmages.
“Our signees—Hunter Bowlin, Owen Stauber, and Ethan Brekke—all played well, and Ethan really stood out his with solid skating and his offensive presence,” said Strachan.
“We like what Joel Bogacki can bring to the team with his simple solid play and a physical presence, and Will Becker will also compete for a spot here.
“With the forwards, obviously our veteran players like Jordan Christianson and Merritt Rysavy stood out, and Davis Smith had a strong camp,” Strachan added.
“Newcomers Kevin Kurm and Mason Meyer both showed that they are prepared to start the season, and Matt Lord was a player that was on the bubble coming in and he outplayed a bunch of guys to secure a spot on the team.”
Heading into Friday’s pre-season opener against the Ice Dogs, which will be followed by a rematch in Dryden the next night, Strachan is hoping to see some continued improvement from his squad as they prepare for their regular-season opener Sept. 26 against the Minnesota Iron Rangers.
“Basically, we just want to see hard work and a high compete level,” he said.
“Up front, we should be able to skate with anyone as we are young, quick, and have some nice skill.
“On defence, and not just with our defencemen, we will be working a lot on battling one-on-one, winning the battles down low in the corners, and knowing and understanding our positions in our own end,” Strachan continued.
“I hope to see an improved defensive game as a team from what we saw at the main camp.”
Although Dryden is expected to be a strong team this season with a number of returning players, along with a new head coach in Paul MacLean, Strachan will be more focused on how his team looks during their pre-season meetings.
“We will just prepare and worry about our own game,” he reasoned.
“To me, the pre-season is a chance to get our feet wet as a team, and to start and prepare our own game plans and systems.
“We still have some tough decisions to make on who will be here for our opening day roster, which will be submitted on Sept. 17,” said Strachan.
“So I hope the players rise to the occasion and show us what they and we have to look forward to this season.”