After playing for their hometown team for the last two seasons, forward Colton Spicer and defenceman Jon Carlson are moving from the Fort Frances Lakers.
The local players, along with goaltender Talor Joseph were traded from the SIJHL club to the MJHL’s Portage Terriers last Wednesday, in exchange for twin forwards Bryce and Lyndon Lipinski, along with a player development fee.
“They’ve got a really great organization down there, and I’m really looking forward to get things started with them,” Carlson said.
“Portage actually talked with me and they were quite a bit interested in me back when I was playing with the Thunder Bay Kings in midget, so I know about the organization and I’m excited to get down there,” he noted.
“They are a team that I have wanted to play on for awhile, and that was even before I was playing in junior,” Spicer added.
“They are a place that has had interest in me before, so it’s a good opportunity,” he stressed.
The 19-year-old Carlson suited up for his home town team for the last two seasons and had 51 points in 105 regular season contests.
“I’ll be a three-year veteran this year, and I hope to take my experience of playing junior hockey here to Portage, along with developing my game,” he said.
“There were also be a lot of boys from Thunder Bay that are down there, so there will be a lot of familiar faces,” Carlson added.
As for Spicer, who is 18 years old, he is leaving the Lakers after potting 76 points in 84 games over the course of two campaigns, and earning the SIJHL’s most improved player award this past season.
While his time with the Lakers came to an unceremonious end just prior to the start of this year’s playoffs, when he left the team following an undisclosed incident at a team practice, Spicer said that his time with the team and with the Fort Frances Muskies prior to that are experiences that he will never forget.
“Playing in your hometown is always the best, as you don’t have to move away and things are a lot easier on you,” Spicer said.
“Plus, our fans are pretty awesome when they are cheering us on,” he added.
Although this will be the first time that Spicer has played away from home, there will be a number of friendly faces that he will see in Portage this winter.
“Besides Jon and Talor, Donovan Cousineau is already on the team, and Davis and Nolan Ross have the rights held by Portage,” he noted.
“All of those guys are used to playing away from home, so having them there should work out well,” Spicer added.
Also departing the Lakers is Joseph, an 18-year-old from Lloydminster, Alberta, who was acquired from the AJHL’s Olds Grizzlys in January and had a 10-2 record with a 2.74 goals against average during the regular season.
In the post-season, Joseph had a 16-8 record and a 2.70 goals against average to help the team earn their second straight trip to the SIJHL final.
“We heard that he carried their team to the final this year,” Terriers head coach and general manager Blake Spiller said in an interview with the Portage Daily Graphic last week.
“I think all of the reporter that we got on him say that he’s a top guy, and he’s the reason that they made it that far,” he added.
While the main goal for the Terriers this season is to go and win the MJHL title, the team will be hosting the 2015 RBC Cup national Junior ‘A’ championships, which is something that excites both Spicer and Carlson.
“That tournament is something that every Junior ‘A’ player wants to compete in, and to take part in that is something that I’m excited about doing,” Spicer stressed.
“Not many guys can say that they play for that, so that is something I’m looking forward to competing in, especially since that will be my 20-year-old season,” Carlson added.
Joining the Lakers are the 20-year-old Lipinski twins, who are from Grande Prairie, Alberta and are entering their third year in the Junior ‘A’ ranks.
After suiting up for the NOJHL’s North Bay Trappers in 2011/12, Bryce was tied for second in Terriers’ team scoring last season with 41 points in 59 games, while Lyndon had 29 points in 53 games.
“We believe that Bryce and Lyndon add speed and skill to our lineup,” Lakers head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan said.
“I have heard nothing but good things about their character and their ability, and having them come in sends a message that we are building to win.
“They will be a big part of that factor, both on and off of the ice,” he added.
This will mark the second time that Strachan has coached twins with the Lakers, as Fort Frances natives Cody and Zach McCool played for the team in the 2010/11 season.
Local fans will have to wait a little bit for their first chance to see the Lipinski twins in action, as they will be making their debut with the Lakers during the team’s main camp at the end of August.