There will be some new scoring blood on the Detroit Lakes boys’ hockey team this season, while Laker head coach Chris Denardo will keep working on the defensive side of the ice for the 2013-14 season.
After some record-breaking marks set on the Bantam level last season, sophomore Jon Richards will take it to the next level as a varsity center.
Richards is ranked as a top 50 sophomore and will join 2012-13 second-leading scorer junior Ryan DeConcini on a line which could potentially be a potent one.
“Those two played Bantams and PeeWee hockey together, so they have that chemistry already,” Denardo said. “We’ll add (senior) Wilson Lysford, who was out last year with an injury, with them to form a pretty good line.”
The Lakers will consistently use three lines and each will bring something different.
DeConcini will provide varsity experience and a tendency to find the net after he had 15 goals and 14 assists last season.
On the next line, senior Casey Paskey returns to provide a physicality as a strong defensive center, who will have an advantage of playing with DL’s fastest skater in junior Johnathan Hallisey.
“Hallisey is our fastest player on the ice and senior Taylor Johnson also will provide some speed and grit on that line, as well,” Denardo said. “That line should be pretty fast.”
After missing the majority of the season with a concussion, senior Brandon Olson returns to center his line.
“Brandon is also gritty and likes contact,” Denardo said. “He’s a player who grinds it out and will provide physicality to the game.”
Junior Sam Boomgar-den will provide size and physical play to Olson’s line, while other players who may see action include seniors Jake Fritz, Brady Crawford and center Joe Solberg.
“Brady is one of our feistiest players and will be a penalty killer role for us and Joe is our biggest player and probably one of our smartest. He doesn’t make mental mistakes in the defensive zone.”
Sophomore center Jake Anderson also will give the Lakers good size.
Defense will be a focused point for the Lakers this season, after the team struggled in that aspect a year ago. Returning will be senior captain Michael Herrmann, along with senior teammates Dylan Bremseth and Ben Nelson.
Juniors Cooper Heimark and Dahlen Olson will also be looked upon to provide defensive depth, along with sophomores Andrew Dahl, Josh Bollig and junior Tanner Steele.
“I want to see improvement on our defense and I do feel good about our guys back there,” Denardo added.
For the last three seasons, junior MacKenzie Steele has been DL’s goalie and for the first time, will have some competition pushing for playing time.
MacKenzie Steele certainly has plenty of minutes logged in after he basically played every minute the last two years.
Sophomore Austin Fritz will be in the mix for playing time between the pipes, which will be a positive factor for Steele.
“It’s good for Mack to have a few nights off and it’s also good to have someone pushing him,” Denardo said. “It looks like Mack also has some more confidence this season.”
The Lakers will once again have one of their most competitive schedules.
“We will be tested right away,” Denardo said. “I would like to see us win the Mid-State Conference and have a top four seed in the section.”
Warroad and East Grand Forks will once again be favorites in Section 8-1A, as well.
“It will be key for the guys to stay focused and not get too down if we drop a game or two,” Denardo said.
The Lakers did suffer through some major injuries last season, which led to an 11-15-1 season, but the challenges the team faced and still able to win in double digits, showed how well the squad played.
“It’s a testament to the players last year to finish as well as they did,” Denardo said. “It was the hardest schedule a DL team probably has played and with all the injuries we had, we didn’t have the same lineup all season.”
The Lakers open the season with a home tournament and will start against Achiever Academy, a prep school based out of Eagan, Thursday, starting at 7:15 p.m.
DL will also face Grafton, N.D., Saturday at 3 p.m.
The 2013-14 Detroit Lakes boys’ hockey schedule:
21 Achiever Academy
23 Grafton, N.D.
26 Fergus Falls
3 at Northern Lakes
6 at Prairie Centre
10 at Park Rapids
13 at Bagley
20 at Wadena-Deer Creek
26-28 at Eveleth-Gil. Tourney
4 Fargo North
11 Ft. Frances, Can.
17 International Falls
18 at Kittson Central
24 Prairie Centre
25 Fargo Davies
28 at Red Lake Falls
30 Wadena-Deer Creek
31 at Greeway-Coleraine
6 Northern Lakes
11 Park Rapids
13 at Little Falls