Going winless in three games at the Dudley Hewitt Cup last week in Kirkland Lake to finish in fourth place and out of the playoffs certainly wasn’t the ending to their season the Fort Frances Lakers had hoped for, especially after coming within a win of advancing to the RBC Cup a year ago.
Despite the disappointment of not vying for a national title starting this Saturday in Lloydminster, the Lakers once again gave local hockey fans a season to remember—tying a franchise mark with 46 wins during the regular season, then going 8-2 in the playoffs to capture their third-straight SIJHL crown.
It was especially impressive given the team lost its top six point-getters from last season but once again was the cream of the five-team league—a testament both to the players who stepped up to fill the holes and the skill and dedication of head coach/general manager Wayne Strachan and his staff.
The impact of the Lakers cannot be understated. Not only is being home to a Junior ‘A’ squad a source of community pride, the team brings in revenue when visiting clubs come here to play. Hosting last year’s Dudley Hewitt Cup, for instance, reportedly injected more than $200,000 into the local economy.
The Lakers also offer district players an opportunity to hone their talents and further their hockey careers close to home.
Equally important is the community service the Lakers provide, whether it’s through programs in the schools, being “celebrities” at local events, or helping to raise funds or collect donations for various causes.
Congratulations to the Lakers on their many accomplishments this season, and thanks for being such important role models to budding hockey players and in terms of community volunteerism.
Hold your heads high.