Friday, October 31, 2014

Lakers confirm Cartney trade

Jordan Cartney gave the Fort Frances Lakers his very best when they needed it most.
It’s a trait that should serve his new employers well.

The 20-year-old goalie from Calgary, who backstopped the Lakers to their first Bill Salonen Cup as SIJHL champs last season, will don the pads for the Pickering Panthers of the OJHL after being dealt July 30 for a player development fee.
“Jordan had asked originally to be traded closer to home,” noted Lakers’ general manager and head coach Wayne Strachan.
“When nothing evolved, we expanded the search into the OJHL.”
Cartney went 24-4 for the Lakers during the 2013-14 regular season, earning him a selection as a CCM second team all-star and a nomination for the league’s top goalie award.
But he then went from being the starter to losing his spot to Devin Tappenden, who had joined the team at the January trade deadline.
When Tappenden skidded to three-straight losses in the SIJHL final after an opening-game shutout, however, Strachan decided to turn back to Cartney.
The move paid off in spades as Cartney allowed only seven goals over the final three games of the series, winning all three to seal the league title.
Now with him gone, Strachan has wasted no time throwing his support behind Tappenden.
“I believe, at this point, it gives us a clear picture of who will get the reins to be our No. 1 goalie to start the year,” he remarked.
“We believe in Devin and his ability he lead us in the net [as he did] for the majority of the second half of the season,” Strachan added.
“The change in the playoffs came mostly on a decision I made because of a situation in my past playing days that I didn’t want to see happen to our hockey team,” he explained.
“In the end, I believe we can say it worked out for the team.
“Devin is a big, positional goalie who can win hockey games,” Strachan said of the 19-year-old from Markham.
“He has proven that for us.
“If he comes in ready mentally, in good physical condition and with a mindset to battle, I believe we are going in the right direction.”
In related news, the Lakers’ training camp roster came more into focus this past week with three new players making commitments to the team.
Carter Chorney of Rainy River and Sturgeon Falls native Nic Proulx will lend their talents at forward while goalie Stirling Wright will try to provide depth behind Tappenden.
“Carter was in summer camp​ and we feel he can add speed and skill to our team up front,” said Strachan about the product of the Lake of the Woods Bears high school program in Baudette, Mn.
“[Chorney] has good size, has great lateral movement, and should be able to step in and make an immediate impact in our lineup.”
Proulx, who had 23 points in 24 games with his hometown Lumberjacks in the Greater Metro Junior ‘A’ Hockey League last season, also had Strachan singing his praises.
“Nic also brings good size, speed, and skill to our lineup, and will be looked upon similar to Carter to help bring offence to the team this year,” Strachan said of the natural centre.
Wright, an 18-year-old out of Bay City, Mich., shared time with Proulx on the Lumberjacks last season.
He didn’t see much action, though, going 1-2 in five appearances, with an 8.26 GAA and .787 save percentage.
Wright recently was the youngest guy on the ice during training camp for the ECHL’s Florida Everblades.
Meanwhile, during an interview with the Junior Hockey Network, Strachan also gave an update on two Laker forwards from last season who may or may not be back with the team.
“[Hunter] Leishman is at a QMJHL camp next week and [Donovan] Cousineau is deciding if he is returning,” Strachan confirmed.
“We have a couple of other forwards making decisions.”
In related news, the Lakers now know they will begin their title defence Sept. 19 at home against the Thunder Bay North Stars after the SIJHL released its regular-season schedule last week.
As expected, the 56-game schedule revealed the league will be a five-team circuit in 2014-15.
That’s because of the absence of the Wisconsin Wilderness, whose owners had to fold the team due to being unable to keep up with the operational costs of the Spooner Ice House.
“I think it is balanced in the fact we play a pretty even distribution of home to away games,” noted Strachan.
“It makes it nice for the players,” he added. “They get their proper rest and are mostly sleeping in their own bed comfortably.”
One early key game includes the first rematch against the Lakers’ opponent in the final, the Minnesota Iron Rangers, set for Sept. 20 in Hoyt Lakes.
The SIJHL’s annual “Showcase” will be held Jan. 27-29.
It doesn’t have a confirmed home as of yet after being in Spooner last season, but likely will end up in Hoyt Lakes.
The Lakers’ final regular-season game is scheduled for March 13 here versus the English River Miners.
The league will have its annual holiday break from Dec. 21-Jan. 1, getting right back to business Jan. 2.
No Laker games are scheduled for the Couchiching Arena this coming season after the newly-opened facility, nicknamed “The Duke,” hosted two regular-season match-ups last year.
Strachan said there was no particular reason for the change.

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