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Building off a good season

LAKER JUNIOR FORWARD NATE BAKER celebrates a goal earlier this season inside Kent Freeman Arena.

Even though the Detroit Lakes boys' hockey team's run in the playoffs was cut off way too prematurely, the 2009-10 season could be one which could end up being a launching pad of sorts for the next several years.

The Lakers put on a display of a strong offensive punch, in which they more than doubled their goal-production from a year ago -- thus resulting in a doubling of their wins.

DL ended with the top scorer in the state with junior forward Tanner Lane finishing with 90 points, including 49 goals and 41 assists, while commanding one of the top scoring lines in Minnesota, as well.

To go along with a potent first punch, the Lakers also employed a hook and jab with solid second and third scoring lines.

In all, it added up to 154 goals, while allowing just 69, as the Lakers compiled a record of 15-8-2.

"Obviously, we would have liked to have gone further in the playoffs, but overall we doubled our points from last year, cut our goals against in half and doubled our win total," said DL head coach Chris Denardo.

The next step to a better season will be to win the close games.

Of the Lakers' eight losses, five were by a one-goal margin, while DL went 3-8-2 in games separated by two goals or less.

"We just were not getting the bounce of the puck or got some bad breaks," Denardo said. "We had an opportunity to win every single game and that's all you have to ask for."

The Lakers' first line was as dangerous as any in the state.

Lane anchored the potent line, along with senior Alex Phelps, who finished with 56 points, including 21 goals and 35 assists.

Denardo switched up the lines a little to give more scoring depth, which included moving junior forward Nate Baker (22 goals, 22 assists) to the second line and brought up freshman Alex Mason (10, 13).

"The first line didn't miss a beat and the second line's production went up," Denardo said of the move. "It worked out to our advantage."

Overall, all three lines were solid, as junior Andy Schupp added 25 points (16 goals, nine assists), along with senior Brett Provo's 20 points (9-11) and Nate Ginnaty's 15 points ( 6-9).

"Going into the season, we were hoping to get three goals a game from our first line and a goal apiece from the other two," Denardo said. "We needed to have that balance."

Defensively, the Lakers had four defensemen who produced on both sides of the ice.

Seniors Davis Johnson and Joe Hanson were a solid pair, along with sophomore Ethan Brekke and junior Alex Deconcini.

"We had experience back and they all played solid in our zone and moved the puck well," the DL coach said of his defensive players.

They also could produce offensively, as Hanson had 17 points, Deconcini 16, Johnson 19 and Brekke 17.

Senior Andrew Friesen also produced his best season, after recording a 12-8-2 record, with an 89.2 percentage save.

"Andrew started off strong and that helped his confidence," Denardo added. "That was the biggest thing, his confidence. He would challenge the shooters and step out and also made the simple saves."

The Lakers do lose seven seniors, including Provo, Ginnaty, Hanson, Johnson, Chad Maristuen, Phelps and Friesen.

But the Lakers will return a full two lines who have plenty of experience scoring goals this past season, while losing half their defense and starting goalie.

"Blake Murphy had a very good junior varsity season at goalie, so he is more than capable and also will be pushed by Michael Brunner," Denardo included.

It definitely was not a lost season after the early exit in the playoffs, instead one which can easily be built off of for a successful 2010-11 campaign.

Laker results

The Detroit Lakes boys' hockey team final 2009-10 stats:

Scoring stats (goals-assists-points) -- Tanner Lane 49-41-90; Alex Phelps 21-35-56; Nathan Baker 22-22-44; Andy Schupp 16-9-25; Alex Mason 21-35-56; Brett Provo 9-11-20; Davis Johnson 3-16-19; Ethan Brekke 3-14-17; Joe Hanson 1-16-17; Alex Deconcini 3-13-16; Nate Ginnaty 6-9-15; Ryan Berg 2-11-13; Chad Maristuen 5-7-12; Kirby Inderrieden 3-2-5; Cody Olsen 1-1-2; Blake Murphy 0-1-1; Ryan Lindquist 0-1-1; Zach Saunders 0-1-1. Team: 154-223-377.

Goalie stats (min-sa-ga-sv-sv %-w-l-t) -- Andrew Friesen 1128-593-64-529-89.2-12-8-2; Blake Murphy 102-14-3-11-78.6-2-0-0; Michael Brunner 51-11-2-9-81.8-1-0-0.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.