Lakers are a program in progress

October 16, 2015

As they forge into formation with a 30-player roster that includes 11 freshmen, the Lake Superior State University Lakers continue a project in progress with a home-and-home set versus the Northern Michigan University Wildcats.

As part of the annual Great Lake State Weekend, the Lakers are at Marquette tonight before returning home to play NMU on Saturday in a 7:07 p.m. start at Taffy Abel Arena.

The Lakers are off to an 0-2 start this 2015-2016 campaign, having lost 5-2 to the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux and 4-1 to the Michigan State University Spartans at the Ice Breaker Tournament in Portland, Maine last weekend.

Despite the back-to-back setbacks, LSSU sophomore defenceman Aidan Wright said he feels the 2015-2016 edition of the Lakers is “way ahead” of where the program was a year ago.

“It’s like night and day,” said Wright, while guesting on a recent edition of the Hockey North Show which airs on Tuesdays at 5 p.m. on ESPN 1400 Radio.

“I think with the returning players and a strong freshman class, we are in a much-better position now than we were a year ago,” said the affable Wright, a hard-nosed defender who has earned extensive words of praise from second-year Laker head coach Damon Whitten for his attitude, commitment, work ethic and dependability.

A 5-foot-10, 190-pound, 1993 birth-year skater who was born in Wawa, Ont. and moved to Sault Ste. Marie as a youngster, Wright was a late, walk-on recruit of Whitten and the Lakers just prior to the start of the 2014-2015 season.

Wright — who played at the major midget level in the Soo before leaving home to further develop in the junior ranks in both the Ontario Jr. Hockey League and British Columbia Hockey League — not only earned a regular spot with the Lakers as a freshman in 2014-2015 but played in all 38 of their games.

As a seasoned sophomore and one of the leaders of the Laker blueline brigade, Wright was asked about freshman defenceman Owen Headrick, who also hails from the Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. area in nearby Garden River First Nation.

“Owen is going to have a great career as a Laker,” Wright said in praise of Headrick. “He has a lot of poise for such a young player and his skill level is really evident. I am looking forward to playing a lot of hockey with Owen as our program moves forward.”

The 6-foot, 190-pound Headrick is poised for regular lineup duty this 2015-2016 season despite being the youngest player on the Lakers with a 1997 birth date.

As a team, the Lakers feature six seniors on their 30-man roster along with five juniors, eight sophomores and that incoming class of 11 freshmen that includes one red-shirt.

The Lakers finished tied for eighth place in the 10-team Western Collegiate Hockey Association in 2014-2015 with a conference record of 7-20-1 and lost in the first round of the playoffs.

PHOTO: The LSSU Lakers freshman class of 2015-2016 includes 1997 birth-year defenceman Owen Headrick (first row, third from left), formerly of the Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League. (Photo by John Shibley.)

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