The Fort Frances Lakers' roster for the 2018-19 season continues to take shape.
Head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan last week announced that four players had re-signed with the team while another had committed to go to school.
Among those returning to Fort Frances next season is last year's leading goal-scorer Jaedin Ness.
The 20-year-old forward from Wayzata, Mn. bulged the twine 29 times and added 13 assists while playing in each of the Lakers' 56 games.
Ness also added three goals and two helpers in nine playoff games.
“Jaedin was a big part of our offence last year and led our team in goals,” said Strachan in a press release.
"We will need him to be consistent this year and play to his capabilities on a daily basis.
“He has strong leadership qualities, and as a 20 year old, he will have to help show the younger players the Lakers' way," he stressed, adding that "we are happy to have Jaedin back in our program.”
A trio of defenceman are also set to return to the red, black, and white next season.
Anthony Antonelli has re-upped for a second year in Fort Frances.
The 20-year-old Commack, N.Y. native skated in 53 games for the Lakers last season, registering three goals and five assists.
Antonelli was then held scoreless in nine playoff games.
“Anthony came a long way in his development last season and will get the opportunity to play a bigger role this year,” Strachan revealed.
“He is a good person and hard worker, a guy that leads by example, and will be looked upon to play a big role for us on the back end.”
Also re-signing with the Lakers are MacKenzie Flett and Dustin Roitelman.
Strachan acquired the pair of blueliners from the Thunder Bay North Stars early last December and they played significant roles with the Lakers in the second half of the season.
After tallying four assists in 17 games with the North Stars, Flett had three helpers in 29 games with Fort Frances.
The 18-year-old then was held scoreless in six playoff games.
“MacKenzie, in my eyes, is a player who could be key to our success this season,” said Strachan.
"We are hoping he has worked hard this offseason to help his development and now realizes the intensity level needed to be successful at this level.
“He is big, can play physical and create offence from the backend,” he added.
“He needs to apply himself and be confident in his game.”
Roitelman, meanwhile, tallied six assists in 19 games with Thunder Bay before being traded to the Lakers.
In 28 contests with Fort Frances, he added 10 helpers before potting a goal and adding an assist in nine playoff games.
“Dustin will be looked upon to raise his level of play and become more a part of our offensive scheme,” noted Strachan.
“He reads the ice well, moves the puck well, and needs to bring leadership as a 20-year-old this season.”
Also announced last week was that the Lakers' final graduating player from last season had committed to attend school.
Forward Ian Jarvis will be attending Briercrest College and Seminary, where he'll play next season for the Clippers and in the ACAC.
Over the course of two seasons with the Lakers, Jarvis scored 23 goals and added 18 assists in 106 games.
The 21-year-old also had five markers and an assist in 17 playoff games.
“It's good to see another player from our program moving on to become a student/athlete and further reach their goals,” enthused Strachan about Jarvis.
"Our organization has had a good success rate of helping players reach the next level in their lives, and it's something we pride ourselves on.
“It's good to see Ian getting the opportunity to attend Briercrest, and not only play hockey, but go to school and work towards his degree,” he added.
"Ian is a quiet guy who went upon his business and helped contribute to our team in the right moments.
“We wish Ian the best of luck,” Strachan concluded.
Then on Monday afternoon, Strachan announced the signing of defenceman Nate Drobnick.
The 19-year-old from Burnsville, Mn. played for his high school team last season, the Burnsville Blaze, where he went scoreless in 11 games.
“Nate is a big bodied player—going 6'5" 215 [pounds] and he skates well for his size and is a strong defender,” said Strachan.
"Our goal this year is to improve our defensive game, and adding Nate definitely moves us closer to reaching this feat.
“He moves the puck well, defends well, and is a physical presence,” he lauded.
“Welcome to the Lakers program Nate.”