Lakers’ prospects camp set for this weekend
For Fort Frances Lakers’ head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan, this weekend’s annual summer prospects camp in International Falls is the perfect opportunity for him and his staff to see close-up chance some possible players for the upcoming SIJHL season.
“I think a camp like this is great for us to do something before the main camp and to target some new players that we will be seeing for the first time,” Strachan explained.
The three-day camp will get underway at Bronco Arena on Friday at 8:30 p.m., with two scrimmages set for 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday.
The final game is slated for Sunday at 10 a.m.
“Right now, we’re still hoping to have at least close to 40 guys taking part,” Strachan noted.
“We have had a few guys who have dropped out because of injury, but we are hoping to replace them with a few veterans and some local guys,” he said.
“We’re hoping to have two full teams, and we already have the four goalies in camp for that, so it’s just a matter of filling a couple of spots on defence right now.”
The blueline will be the main focus for Strachan and the rest of the coaching staff this weekend, with only one veteran slated to return to the squad this fall.
“Filling those holes will be a big task for us,” he stressed. “And as many people know, we haven’t signed anyone yet on defence in the off-season so far.
“There are a couple of American players that we will be seeing for the first time in Owen Stauber and Ethan Brekke, who are two guys that we have been recruiting all year and who we have heard good things about, so we are excited to see what they can do,” added Strachan.
Up front, there will be a heavy focus on looking at the local players who are taking part in the camp, along with Tommy Astrup from Warroad, Mn., who Strachan has heard a lot of good things about.
“Tommy might not be able to come to all of the games because of a baseball commitment that he has, but we are excited to see him here,” Strachan said.
“As for the local players, we are interested to see what our high pick, Hunter Leishman, does as he is a big guy with a nice skill level that we are curious to see if it will translate into the Junior ‘A’ level.
“Along with him, there are a number of local guys that we will be looking at to see if they can make some surprises,” he added.
Between the pipes, local fans will be very familiar with one of the four goalies taking part in the camp as Muskies’ starter Scott Parsons will be attending.
As well, former Dryden Ice Dogs’ netminder Dustin Stevens will be looking to make a strong impression to earn an invite to the Lakers’ main camp next month.
“Dustin played a bit for the Ice Dogs last season [where he had a 3-4-0-2 record and a 3.13 GAA] and did pretty well for them,” Strachan recalled.
“But he wasn’t in their plans, and he’s expressed an interest in coming here to show us what he can do.”
While a number of young players will be taking to the ice at Bronco Arena this weekend, two who won’t be are the Lakers’ latest off-season signings in forwards Brennan Nesrallah and Mathew Chasse.
“They will both coming to the main camp,” Strachan noted.
“With the travel costs and what-not for both of them [Nesrallah is from Moosonee while Chasse resides in Brossard, Que.], we felt it is better for them to come later on,” he remarked.
With so many players vying to make an impression this weekend, Strachan and his staff will be looking at a number of key things to determine which will receive an invite to the club’s main camp at the end of August to compete for a spot on the final roster.
“Our number-one thing that we will be looking at is their consistency and how hard they are working out there,” he said.
“Whether they can understand the game and how they are skating is also a key, as well.
“I know that some of the guys locally are skating in the Falls right now, and the ones that aren’t usually take a game or two to get their legs under them,” Strachan noted.
“But overall, the work ethic of the players and how they progress throughout the weekend will be important,” he stressed.
“If it slacks off, you know that they haven’t been working very hard to maintain their condition during the summer.”