Wednesday, April 23, 2014

DLM Line on fire for Lakers

The Soviet Red Army hockey team, in its heyday, had the KLM Line.
The Fort Frances Lakers are proud to present the DLM Line, which recently has been bombing opposing goalies with military-like precision.

The trio of Lucas DeBenedet, Lyndon Lipinski, and Mason Meyer is on a prolific hot streak at the moment—and a huge reason the Lakers (21-1-0-2) earned three more wins over the past week to bump their winning streak to five games and remain No. 4 in the Canadian Junior ‘A’ Hockey League top 20 rankings.
Meyer had back-to-back five-point nights as Fort Frances beat the Wisconsin Wilderness 9-5 last Tuesday (Nov. 26) in Spooner and then 6-1 at the Ice For Kids Arena on Friday.
He then tacked on three more Saturday’s 4-3 overtime win against the visiting Dryden Ice Dogs.
With 13 points in three games, the International Falls product was named the SIJHL’s Pizza Hut Player of the Week for the second-straight time, sharing the honour this week with Zach Grzelewski of the Thunder Bay North Stars, who had eight points in two games.
Meyer is earning praise from throughout the Lakers’ dressing room, whether it be from his linemate—the SIJHL’s leading scorer—or the main man behind the bench.
“Mason’s playing unreal hockey right now,” said DeBenedet, who scored 24 seconds into the extra session Saturday as part of a four-point night to give him a league-best 23 goals and 47 points.
“I think he’s got something like 24 points [actually 21] in his last six games,” DeBenedet added.
“He’s just unbelievable right now.”
“With Mason, since returning from our break, he has been working hard and moving his feet, using his speed wide, and taking pucks to the net,” lauded Lakers’ head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan.
“I can always tell when ‘Mase’ is into it because his feet are moving and he is hard to contain.”
Meyer has moved into second behind DeBenedet in the league’s scoring race with 41 points, is third in goals with 16, and now has taken over as the top play-maker on the circuit with 25 assists to move one up on his former teammate on the Falls Broncos’ squad.
It hasn’t hurt that the third member of the SIJHL’s most lethal line at the moment—Lipinski—has been carrying his weight, too.
Lipinski has been on a noteworthy pace of his own with 16 points in his last five games and is third in the SIJHL behind his teammates with 35 points, including 22 assists.
“Lyndon is very similar [to Meyer],” noted Strachan. “He is always around the net and putting himself in position for plays.
“He uses his speed well and takes pucks to the net,” the head coach added. “He is making solid shots and they are counting right now.
“Their line is clicking and working together at this point.”
Joining the Fort’s marvelous mixture of talent, which has netted victories in 20 of their past 21 outings, is goalie Ethan Wood.
Fresh from a 3 a.m. flight from Ottawa and working on no sleep, the 20-year-old from Lloydminster, Alta. made 16 saves in his Lakers’ debut Saturday against the Ice Dogs (12-14-2).
“I’d give myself a two out of 10,” admitted Wood, who came to the Lakers from the Kingston Voyageurs of the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League in exchange for a player development fee.
“With being up the last 24 hours, I wasn’t into it as much as I should have been,” he explained.
“I just didn’t want to be the reason we lost.”
Last season’s rookie goalie-of-the-year in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with the Fort McMurray Oil Barons (12-5-2, 2.73 GAA, and .911 save percentage) was dealt to the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders this past off-season.
Wood allowed seven goals on 21 shots in what would be his only start with Sherwood Park after clashing with Crusaders’ general manager and head coach Tim Fragle, who left Wood sitting on the sidelines for a month before dealing him to Kingston.
He started one game with the Voyageurs on Oct. 13, then didn’t play again until a relief appearance Nov. 7, followed by two more mop-up jobs over the next five days.
“I want to use my size to my advantage,” said the 6’2”, 190-pounder, who finished 0-2 with Kingston with a 4.89 GAA and .829 save percentage.
“I’m pretty quick for being so tall.”
Strachan liked the eyeful of Wood’s work he got Saturday.
“In the first, we left Ethan hanging out to dry,” he noted.
“We give up a turnover up the middle on the first one to give them a prime shot, then on the second one, we don’t pick up coverage in front of the net,” he recalled.
“And even the third one could be blamed on a defensive breakdown.
“He did good for not having seen action in about three weeks,” Strachan added. “With a few more games in and a chance to get settled, he’s going to gain confidence.
“We tried to get him earlier this season and we’re glad he’s here.”
Meanwhile, the only trouble plaguing the Lakers right now is the injury bug.
Forward Colton Spicer is out indefinitely after suffering an upper-body injury Nov. 22 against Wisconsin.
Forward Donovan Cousineau, meanwhile, has an MRI scheduled for next week to check on the progress of his knee injury suffered Nov. 9 against Dryden.
Defenceman Brandon Sinclair also is awaiting an MRI for his unidentified injury sustained in that same Dryden game.
The Lakers, who are 11 points up on second-place Thunder Bay (15-3-0-3) with the Stars holding three games in hand, next host the Minnesota Iron Rangers here tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.
Fort Frances then heads out on the road to face Wisconsin on Saturday and the English River Miners in Ear Falls next Tuesday (Dec. 10).

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