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Detroit Lakes senior forward Alex Phelps (26) lifts a shot on goal against Wadena-Deer Creek last year. Phelps will be one of the Lakers' potential top scorers this year after a strong season last year. (Brian Basham/DL Newspapers)

Lakers to have more scoring punch on the ice this season

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After taking a few bumps and bruises last year during an 8-18-0 season, the Detroit Lakes boys' hockey team is looking to return some of those losses this time around.

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Inexperience and youth were common factors on the Laker squad last season, but with plenty of younger skaters gaining good ice time, that results in a more-seasoned team in 2009-10.

The Lakers return seven forwards, four defensemen and two goalies who saw time on varsity.

"Last year, not all the pieces were quite there yet, but now, I feel there is a good solid core returning," said second-year head coach Chris Denardo. "It's just another year the players getting used to me."

DL should enter its schedule with a good scoring punch with the return of two of their scoring leaders in forwards junior Tanner Lane and senior Alex Phelps.

They make up two-thirds of the first line, which includes junior Nate Baker, as well.

"They have been moving the puck great and utilizing their speed and strength," Denardo said. "With Tanner being keyed on by defenses, Alex and Nate should have the flood gates open with their shots."

Lane will be seeing lots of attention after having a breakout season last year. With his superior speed and a bigger frame to go along with it, bigger and better things are being expected.

"He's figuring out that he can use his teammates and not take on the full load himself," Denardo said of Lane. "He has learned he can skate into the open area and pass back to a teammate.

"Tanner is so fast and he will also benefit by being stronger."

The second line is made up of all seniors in Nate Ginnaty, Chad Maristuen and Brett Provo.

The senior line will provide the grit, as well as scoring ability, Denardo said.

"They work their butt off and they can stand out as a line, as well," the DL coach included. "They like to hit, but they are not looking to be on a highlight film.

"But they are skilled players."

The third line will consist of juniors Andy Schupp and Ryan Berg, along with sophomore Alex Mason.

The latter brings the element of size and speed, while Schupp can offer speed and Berg the ability to finish off goals.

There will also be a fourth line used, but who will also play junior varsity in juniors Kirby Inderrieden, Ryan Lindquist and Cody Olsen.

"We should have more scoring depth this year," Denardo said. "Assistant coach Matt Wimmer and I are hoping we can get two to three goals from our top line and one goal from each of the other two, we will be in good shape."

A pair of defensemen return in seniors Davis Johnson and Joe Hanson, who will anchor that side of the ice.

Sophomore Ethan Brekke and junior Alex Deconcini each also saw time on the defensive ice, as well.

"Davis Johnson is a 6-4, big defensman and his skating skills are better and his confidence is up," Denardo added. "We also converted Joe Hanson back to defense after he saw time at forward, but unfortunately he missed half the season (with appendicitis)."

Denardo is also confident his defensemen can be offensive-oriented and be able to put the puck in the net.

Junior Zach Saunders and sophomore Derek Brehm will also pick up minutes on the defense.

Goalie will also be a bit more seasoned with senior Andrew Friesen and junior Blake Murphy each seeing time in the net.

"They both know what to expect now," Denardo said. "We had issues last year on our first shots and let up a bit too much. Our defense is good at cleaning up the zone to prevent rebounds."

Junior Michael Brunner will also be in the mix as a goaltender.

Overall, Denardo is hoping his team can produce some more points this year, as well as playing all three periods with the same high energy.

"The biggest thing is to maintain our intensity throughout the entire game," Denardo said. "We outshot almost all of our opponents last year, we just didn't finish the scoring opportunities."

The Section 6-1A will be tough, as usual, with Sartell being the favorite, along with Alexandria and Fergus Falls being right there.

The Lakers opened the season Saturday and Sunday in their four-team tournament. They will be travel to Pequot Lakes Thursday for a 7 p.m. start.

Laker schedule

Detroit Lakes 2009-10 boys' hockey schedule:

December

3 at Pequot Lakes

5 Fergus Falls

15 at Park Rapids

18 Walker/Hackensack-Akeley

22 Fargo North

28-30 Fergus Falls Holiday Tournament

January

7 at Wadena-Deer Creek

8 at Willmar

12 at W/H-A

15 at Two Harbors

16 at Silver Bay

19 Crookston

21 Pequot Lakes

23 Park Rapids

26 Wadena-Deer Creek

29 Prairie Centre

30 Sartell

February

6 at Little Falls

9 at Bagley

12 at Morris

16 at Bemidji at BSU.

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