Lane commits to play for Force
DETROIT LAKES - Tanner Lane's hockey career as a Detroit Lakes Laker is over.
After a whirlwind of a summer -- which included getting drafted into the USHL by the Fargo Force, signing a commitment to play with Dean Blais' University of Nebraska -- Omaha and getting selected by the NHL Atlanta Thrashers -- it was time for Lane to make one more decision.
Although it was a tough one, it made the most sense for Lane, as the 2009 Minnesota leading scorer decided to leave the Lakers and play for the USHL's Force.
Lane participated in the Force's tryout camp last week Sunday through Wednesday and by Thursday, he was on the team.
"They called me Thursday and said I made the team and I committed then to play for them," Lane said.
With Lane committing to play for Division I Nebraska-Omaha, which will start playing in the WCHA this coming season, and being drafted into the NHL were definitely influencing factors for Lane's decision to forego his senior season at DLHS and play on the junior level.
"Playing on the level of the USHL, it's a good league to develop my skills," Lane said. "It is a matter of getting better."
Force head coach and general manager Steve Johnson added they have been scouting Lane for a while now and his play during their tryout camp solidified a spot on the 2010-11 squad.
"Tanner can skate well and is a good puck handler," Johnson said. "He plays at a good pace and has a good frame build to out-physical other people."
But after being the go-to guy on the ice for the Lakers the last three years -- as well as being the focal point of defenses -- Lane will be entering an entirely new level of hockey and possibly a different role to start out with.
In other words, this summer has been fun, but the work has only just begun.
"It's an entirely different game now for Tanner," Johnson said. "It is a big step for him. He is very raw and needs to play a little different using other teammates and learn how to move the puck to the open guy.
"But we are confident he will learn."
Lane will be the first Laker player to leave early to play juniors, although he won't be the youngest player on the Force.
Johnson said Lane is still an above-average age player and will benefit from playing juniors because it is a "college setting" atmosphere.
Lane also will be granted his goal to graduate with his DL schoolmates.
He will be living in Fargo with his uncle Lincoln McArthur's family and will take online classes to complete his high school class requirements.
But Lane will not forget his roots as a Laker.
"I'm happy how my career went in Detroit Lakes," Lane said. "I grew up through the ranks (of the DL hockey program). I started playing (varsity) my freshman season here and felt I got better and better.
"It was a great year last year, too, and I had fun playing with the team."
Lane will be playing on a team which has experienced great success through its two years of existence.
Under the leadership of Blais in the Force's inaugural season, Fargo played to the USHL championship and finished as the league's runners-up.
Last season, with Blais at Nebraska-Omaha, Johnson led the Force back to the championship series, before losing to Green Bay in the final game.
"First, I need to earn a roster spot and learn what my role will be," Lane said. "It is a total different game now."
The Force's 60-game season will start Friday, Oct. 1, against Chicago in Fargo.