The Fort Frances Lakers welcome one of the SIJHL’s best to the Ice For Kids Arena tonight.
Dryden comes into the game with a 10-1 record—second only to the league-leading Fort William North Stars (11-1)—while the Lakers currently sit in fourth place at 3-7-2.
Despite losing their previous three meetings with the Ice Dogs, the Lakers have played them close, including two overtime defeats.
“The last two games went into overtime, and this time we have to capitalize and use home ice to our advantage,” Lakers’ defenceman Ben Hilborn stressed.
Brendan Muise, who returned from injury and scored twice in the Lakers’ 6-3 win over the K&A Wolverines in Thunder Bay last Thursday, has been suspended indefinitely after some off-ice conduct over the weekend landed him in hot water.
The Lakers are also actively shopping Cam Gross stemming from the incident as well.
“We just got bag skated [Monday] because a few guys weren’t following the rules this weekend, so the whole team has to pay the consequences for that,” Hilborn noted.
Despite averaging some 350 fans per game, tops among all six teams on the SIJHL circuit, the Lakers have struggled at home—sporting an 0-5-1 record here so far.
They’ve fared much better on the road at 3-2-1.
“I don’t know exactly what’s been going on [at home],” Hilborn lamented. “Maybe some guys have nerves, or can’t step up to the expectations, but I really don’t know.
“I, myself, really enjoy playing at home,” he added. “I think we have the best ice in the league and the best fans.”
After tonight’s game, the Lakers will turn their attention to a re-match with the Wisconsin Mustangs in Spooner on Friday night.
The Lakers lost 5-2 in their lone meeting with the Mustangs back on Sept. 30.
In related news, Fort Frances native TJ Pocock was picked up from the Steinbach Pistons of the MJHL and he will be in the Lakers’ lineup tonight.
Pocock spent last season between the pipes for the ‘AAA’ Midget Kenora Thistles, and was in a back-up role with the Pistons to begin this season.
The Lakers also acquired defenceman Morgan McNeill from the Smiths Falls Bears for future considerations.
McNeill spent last season in the SIJHL with the now-defunct Schreiber Diesels, where he tallied nine assists in 48 games while compiling 91 minutes in penalties.
“Morgan played with Schreiber last season so he brings big-time experience in big games,” Lakers’ head coach Wayne Strachan noted.
“He will add depth to our ‘D’ core and hopefully bring some life to our power play,” Strachan said.