Lakers eye smooth sailing ahead

March 16, 2016

Their season ended with a first-round playoff loss to the second-seeded Minnesota State Mavericks but the future outlook contains considerable promise for the Lake Superior State Lakers of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

The Lakers, who finished in seventh place in the 10-team WCHA during the 2015-2016 regular season, stand to return more than 20 players for the 2016-2017 campaign.

To be sure, a solid group of underclassmen stepped up to play major roles for second-year head coach Damon Whitten and the Lakers over the course of the 2015-2016 season.

“As a program we feel we have made good strides in the time since we have been at Lake State,” said Whitten, appearing on a recent edition of the Laker Hockey Show on Sault Ste. Marie radio station ESPN 1400.

Of the Lakers top seven scorers over the course of the 2015-2016 campaign, five were freshmen, including 1997 birth-year defenseman Owen Headrick.

Headrick, who is from Garden River First Nation, starred with the Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League for two seasons prior to heading to Lake Superior State last fall.

As a group, the underclassmen performed at an upper level over the course of this season.

Sophomore forward J.T. Henke topped the Laker scoring chart.

Right behind Henke were freshmen forwards Mitch Hults, Anthony Nellis, Gage Torrel and Diego Cuglietta, junior forward Gus Correale and the aforementioned Headrick, who is the youngest player in the entire WCHA.

Meantime, sophomore goalie Gordon Defiel — who gave the Lakers a chance to steal the playoff series against Minnesota State with a stunning 57-save shutout — is the main man between the pipes for Lake State and one of the best at his position in the entire WCHA.

And one of the Lakers top two defensemen is area product sophomore Aidan Wright.

Wright, who was born in Wawa, played a good portion of his minor hockey career on the Canadian side of the International Bridge at Sault Ste. Marie.

PHOTO: Freshman defenseman Owen Headrick finished sixth on the Lakers in scoring with 5 goals, 7 assists, 12 points.

What you think about “Lakers eye smooth sailing ahead”

  1. Randy!! Solid article as usual!! I had a chance to watch them play MSU 4 times and the underclass man seemed to get better at playoff time. Even the TV personel for MSU commented on the bright future ahead for LSSU

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