Laker Boys Hockey Preview - Rebuilding and progressing
There will be a rebuilding project undertaken inside Kent Freeman Arena this year, as the Detroit Lakes boys' hockey team looks to develop its youth and progress through the 2012-13 season.
The Lakers will be inexperienced and young in all phases of the game, and along with the hits of losing a few experienced skaters, that will mean a season of focusing on improvement.
"We will be focusing on getting better each day, that's what this season is all about, getting better," said DL head coach Chris Denardo. "There shouldn't be any pressure to win games, we will be using them to get better."
The Lakers do retain a good core on their attacking lines, as senior centers Austin Rusness and Taylor Magnuson return, along with senior forward Connor Collins.
The injury bug has already made its presence known, however, as knee injuries to Wilson Lysford and senior Kyle Herrmann have thinned out the lines.
Junior Casey Paskey will return soon from a thumb injury he suffered in football.
"We will have changes throughout the lines early on," Denardo said. "We do have experience up front, but we are just a little down now with the injuries."
The Lakers won't have that go-to scorer like they've had in the past, but a more spread out scoring scheme will be in place, with Magnuson, Rusness and Collins anchoring the lines.
"We have a lot more balance in scoring, we will be spreading the wealth," Denardo said.
A pair of sophomores in Jonathan Hallisey and Ryan DeConcini will play vital roles on offense, as well.
Both have had a knack for scoring on the Bantam level and each possesses the grittiness and quickness Denardo is looking for.
The third and fourth lines return junior Jacob Fritz, senior Sam Velde and junior Taylor Johnson, who was the junior varsity leading scorer last season.
Others in the mix include juniors Brandon Olson, Brady Crawford, Sam Bergren and sophomore Joe Solberg.
"We have a lot of guys who know the system, but they just need to get comfortable playing on the varsity level," the DL coach said. "We just don't know what we have, yet."
Defensively, the Lakers are very green, after losing some of their main contributors from last year's squad.
Senior Isaac Fondrick, junior Dylan Bremseth, junior Michael Herrmann and sophomore Tanner Steele will look to fill the defensive voids.
Although the Lakers will not have big size, they will have aggressive players, albeit inexperienced.
"We knew the defense was a spot we were going to have to work on," Denardo said. "Only time will tell. Our defensemen are smaller and quicker, meaning they will have to play smarter and hit the right angles."
Back in net is sophomore MacKenzie Steele, who played just about every minute last year at the goalie position.
With a younger defense in front of him, Steele will be relied on more to come up with the big saves.
"Mack has some good experience now, so he will have to be our backstopper," Denardo said. "His strength is he is technically sound and sets himself up well.
"Now, he will have to work on getting bigger, stronger and quicker."
The Lakers' schedule is no creampuff, with traditionally tough foes such as Warroad, International Falls and Duluth Denfeld on it.
"I've strived to build a strong schedule and this one is probably the toughest one since I've been here," Denardo said. "That's how you get better."
The Lakers opened the season in their Holiday Tournament, losing two, to East Ridge 15-1 and Northfield 8-3.
"We let in some soft goals in the third period against Northfield, after being tied 3-3 in the second period," Denardo said. "It was 1-1 against East Ridge, but when we lost Kyle Herrmann to injury, we let in six quick goals.
"East Ridge is a very strong and fast team and they took advantage of our younger team."
DL will look to rebound Thursday at home, when they host Mid-State Conference opponent Northern Lakes starting at 7:30 p.m.
Detroit Lakes boys hockey 2012-13 schedule:
29 Northern Lakes
1 at Warroad
7 Prairie Centre
11 Park Rapids
15 at International Falls
20 at Wahpeton
27-29 at Duluth Denfeld Tournament
4 at Fargo North
8 Wadena-Deer Creek
12 at Fergus Falls
15 at Crookston
18 International Falls
19 Kittson Central
25 at Prairie Centre
26 at Fargo Davies
29 Red Lake Falls
31 at Wadena-Deer Creek
9 at Northern Lakes
12 at Park Rapids
14 Little Falls