They lost their first six games of the season and were outscored 35-9 in the process. But the Fort Frances Lakers, with career coach and native son Dave Allison at the helm, scored their first win of the 2021-2022 Superior International Jr. Hockey League season on Wednesday.
The 62-year old Allison was hired by Fort Frances as coach and general manager just prior to the start of the season and the Lakers got a late start at recruiting, which might explain their 0-6-0 start.
But Allison has added players via trade since the start of the season and Fort Frances finally hit the win column on Wednesday with a 4-3 victory over the Dryden Ice Dogs.
One of the Lakers new players, 18-year old forward Ty Milgate, a recent acquisition from the SIJHL’s Red Lake Miners, scored two goals in his Fort Frances debut to spark the win over Dryden. Milgate managed just one assist in seven games with Red Lake prior to being obtained by Fort Frances in a cash deal.
As for Allison, his return to his hometown to coach the Lakers after more than 30 years behind the benches of teams in the National Hockey League (Ottawa Senators), Ontario Hockey League (Kingston Frontenacs) and a number of high level, minor pro teams, has been a breath of fresh air for the SIJHL and Fort Frances in the wake of last year’s dismissal of former head coach Bernie Lynch for inappropriate conduct and a subsequent charge of sexual assault.
Meanwhile, the first win of the season for Allison and Fort Frances over a Dryden team with a .500 record has quickly tightened up the standings in the seven team SIJHL and perhaps sent a message that the Lakers may be headed for smoother sailing.