At the sight of Lakers
Flying across their home ice,
Would the bawds of euphony
Cry out sharply?
Too esoteric for you? Try this: Who will fear the Lakers?
The Scott Borek era is over, and so returns to Sault Ste. Marie the legendary Frank Anzalone, who will attempt to resurrect the Laker days of old.
Here’s another question for you: Could Anzalone have done any better last season, with so many Lakers injured or ill?
A Year from Eternity
“We respect the tough task this group of athletes has,” says Anzalone, referring to making the transition from the injured and low-scoring to the healthy and competitive.
The Lakers were 13-23-0 overall last year, with a long, long stretch from the end of December through early February that saw nine consecutive losses. A quick glance at the Lakers’ team stats tells the whole story. Three Lakers played in all 36 games last year; another six played 35; three – including netminder Jayme Platt – played 34 games; one saw 33.
That’s just 13 players who played more than 30 games.
The Laker offense should get a shot in the arm – no pun intended – with the return of Jeremy Bachusz, who missed 25 games last season with the Epstein-Barr virus. Prior to last season, Bachusz had 33 points (16-17-33) in 73 career games.
Other forwards expected to lead the Laker charge are Jason Nightingale (14-8-22), LSSU’s top returning goal scorer, and Aaron Davis, who with 10 goals and 15 assists was last year’s top-scoring Laker.
The Lakers look to newcomers Ryan Bennett, Bo Cheeman, Andrew Contois, Barry Pochmara, and Derek Seal to contribute immediately to the offensive effort.
To Kill a Penalty
— Once-and-again LSSU head coach Frank Anzalone
Anzalone pledges that the Lakers will “return to a style of play that is based on playing well from the goal out and being accountable in our own end.”
That’s good news for Laker fans, who watched LSSU languish at the bottom of the league in penalty killing (.781, 11th) and goals allowed (3.31, 10th).
With the departure of Jayme Platt, the Laker netminding job is up for grabs. Freshmen Terry Denike and Matt Violin will be pushing junior Scott Murray for the job. Last year, Murray played fewer than 300 minutes, with an .870 save percentage and a 3.72 GAA.
In front of the crease, the Lakers return three senior defenders — Tyson Turgeon, Chris Thompson, and Will Magnuson.
“Everyone is on equal ground,” says Anzalone. “From the freshmen to the seniors, every player will have an opportunity to prove himself.”
Given the Lakers’ unenviable task, it’s interesting that Anzalone says, “A situation such as this can be as much fun as it can be difficult.”
The coach says, “We have to re-establish our work ethic, our desire, our passion, and our conditioning in order to build a solid foundation for the future of Laker hockey.”
Coach, tell your players to take their vitamins, too.