Lakers finish pre-season without a win
While the record for a team during the pre-season means nothing once the years comes to an end, the Fort Frances Lakers will have to wait until the regular season to get their first taste of victory.
After coming out on the losing end of a pair of games to the Dryden Ice Dogs the weekend prior, the Lakers’ dropped a pair of decisions to the Minnesota Wilderness to wrap up their exhibition slate, as they fell 5-3 on home ice on Saturday night before getting hammered 6-1 in Cloquet, Mn., on Sunday afternoon.
“The pre-season is behind us now and we will continue to work on what we need to improve on in our seven practices leading up to our first game,” Strachan stressed.
“We will also make some roster decisions in the next few days to release some players, and possibly add some veterans to our lineup if it all works out,” he added.
In what was the first meeting between both sides since a thrilling best-of-seven series for the Bill Salonen Cup last spring, the defending-champion Wilderness got the better of the Lakers’ once again on Saturday night, as three-point evenings from Jordan Shockley and Ben Michaud helped the visitors to a 5-3 win.
“It was more or less the same type of game that we had against Dryden,” Strachan said.
“Right now, we’ve been getting into trouble when the other team has momentum or has scoring chances becuase of our own breakdowns, and I think it’s just a matter of us keeping the game simple.
“I think our young guys might be trying to impress too much or are trying to do too much right now, as they really just need to be doing the simple things out there like using the boards and getting the puck out of your own end and into their end when you don’t have anything,” he added.
However, Strachan did find a number of positive things that he and the coaching staff could take from Saturday’s performance.
“I liked the work ethic at times from all four lines, as when we work hard, we start to have some jump in our step and are able to make things happen,” he explained.
“When you think of that Lakers’ style of hockey in the past, the type of game that we like to play is one where we forecheck, cycle the puck around and dominate down low to open our offensive chances, and that’s something we will be looking to improve on going forward,” he added.
Merritt Rysavy paced the Lakers’ on offense with a goal and an assist in the loss, with Alex Bruess and Joel Bogacki finding the back of the net.
As for the Wilderness, who moved from Spooner, Wi. to Cloquet during the summer, Jeremy Johnson potted a pair of goals in addition to markers from Alex Harvey and Dylan Hoskins.
“It was a good first game for us, especially since we have only been on the ice since Thursday night,” Wilderness bench boss Rod Aldoff explained.
“We are mostly trying to get our legs under us right now, and as far as the energy and all of that stuff goes, the kids having played well and competed hard.
“Obviously there were some mistakes out there that we will have to fix, but that comes with time,” he added.
Sunday’s contest in Cloquet was a lopsided 6-1 affair in favour of the Wilderness, who were led by a pair of goals from Mike MacKinnon in addition to markers from Johnson, Brian Drapluk, Peter Barrell, and Joseph Drapluk.
“I’m not sure that the score tells the entire tale of that game,” Strachan reasoned.
“Even though we were outshot pretty bad, we did sustain pressure and created some good scoring chances at times, but we just didn’t have anyone paying the price to get to the net.
“For some reason, it is not sinking into some of your younger players the pressuring the puck, being aggressive and finishing checks is important at this level, as we let the Wilderness wheel into our end far too many times without any pressure and allowed them to make offensive plays happen,” he added.
Mason Meyer had the lone goal for the Lakers in Sunday’s loss.
Although the Lakers’ will have over a week before they begin their 2012/13 season, the other six teams in the SIJHL will begin their campaigns on Friday night.
The opening night slate sees the Iron Rangers hosing the Thunder Bay North Stars, the Duluth Clydesdales traveling to Dryden, and the Sioux Lookout Flyers entertaining the Wilderness.