Lakers looking in their backyard

January 27, 2014

Based in Sault Ste. Marie, on the Michigan side of the International Bridge that links the United States and Canada, Lake Superior State Lakers are in a good recruiting position.

A Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association program, the Lakers have the advantage of being within a few miles of the Soo Eagles of the North American Hockey League and the Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League, not to mention the Soo Indians major midgets.

If that isn’t enough, come the 2014-2015 season, a yet-to-be-named Soo team will return to the Great North Midget Hockey League after a one-year absence.

Being where they are, the Lakers often get first glance and first crack at would-be, could-be, Division 1 prospects from both sides of the International Bridge.

Over the past few years, Lake Superior State has not tapped into the Twin Soo junior and midget hockey market that much, though in fairness to Laker head coach Jim Roque, he has tried.

For example, Roque offered Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. product Anthony Stefano a scholarship deal a year ago only to have the 1996 birth-year forward opt to sign with the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League.

This time around, Roque and the Lakers made a full-ride offer to 1997 birth-year defenceman Owen Headrick of the NOJHL’s Soo Thunderbirds. At present, Headrick, who is an OHL draft pick of the Erie Otters, has not committed to Lake Superior State — or anywhere else, for that matter.

Recently, Laker assistant coach Doug Laprade talked to Mike Caruso, a 1995 birth-year defenceman with the NAHL Eagles, about his future plans.

One would think that the Lakers might also make time to talk to Scott Cuthrell, a small but smart, skilled and productive forward with the NAHL Eagles. Cuthrell is a 1993 birth-year who just turned 20 in December and could be a downright steal by the Lakers or another Division 1 recruiter with vision and fortitude.

There are others who Roque would be wise to consider, players with both the NAHL Eagles, NOJHL Thunderbirds and maybe even the major midget Indians.

The Lakers might want to take a look at the NAHL’s Michigan Warriors when they make another visit to the Soo to play the Eagles in March.

The Warriors have a number of 1993 birth-year skaters who wouldn’t cost the Lakers a dime in initial scholarship money, including forwards Connor Lyons and Zack Szajner and defenceman Jake Faiella.

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