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Dudley-Hewitt Cup team preview: Fort Frances Lakers

DUDLEY-HEWITT CUP CENTRAL CANADA JR. A CHAMPIONSHIP

DHC NETWORK MEDIA UPDATE

Release Date: Monday, May 2, 2016

Fort Frances team photo credit: Joey Payeur, Fort Frances Times

Dudley-Hewitt Cup team preview: Fort Frances Lakers

KIRKLAND LAKE, Ont. – The 2016 Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada Jr. A Championship in Kirkland Lake, Ont., begins Tuesday in Kirkland Lake, Ont. at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex and features the defending event champion Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL) the Trenton Golden Hawks (OJHL), the Fort Frances Lakers (SIJHL) and the host Kirkland Lake Gold Miners (NOJHL).

The following is a DHC preview of the Superior International Junior Hockey League Bill Salonen Cup champion Fort Frances Lakers.

THE SIJHL: The Superior International Junior Hockey League representative at this year’s Dudley-Hewitt Cup is once again the Fort Frances Lakers.

This marks the third consecutive year Fort Frances has advanced to the Dudley-Hewitt Cup.

They hosted last year’s event and while playing in front of near-capacity crowds, advanced to the DHC championship game where they dropped a narrow 3-2 decision to the Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL) in the title game.

Fort Frances earned their way to this year’s event after capturing their third straight Bill Salonen Cup SIJHL crown defeating the Dryden GM Ice Dogs in six games for a second straight year in a tightly contested series.

The Lakers also won their third straight league regular season crown finishing first overall with a 46-8-0-2 record.

They were also tabbed fifth overall in the final Canadian Junior Hockey League Top 20 rankings of the season.

The Lakers have competed in five consecutive SIJHL championship series, having won the previous three.

SIJHL Commissioner: Bryan Graham

THE LAKERS

Head Coach/General Manager: Wayne Strachan

WHO TO WATCH: Fort Frances boasts a strong line-up that features multiple award winners from top to bottom.

Leading the way is SIJHL Amyotte’s Awards & Promotions most valuable player, CCM Hockey first team all-star and Gongshow Gear playoff MVP Dylan Robertson.

Robertson, who also earned league top defensive forward honours, paced all skaters in regular season scoring with 88 points in 53 games on 31 goals and a league-best 57 assists.

The veteran forward from Atlanta, Ga., also had a tremendous postseason for Fort Frances helping them capture their third straight Bill Salonen Cup SIJHL championship.

Robertson led all SIJHL skaters in goals and points with 10 and 17 respectively in 10 postseason outings.

Five of his markers came on the power play and he also had two game-winning tallies to his credit.

Right after Robertson in the regular season was Lakers D-man Nick Minverva.

He earned the league’s Gongshow Gear top defenceman award after piling up 73 points in 52 outings on 21 tallies and 52 helpers.

In postseason action Minerva led all SIJHL blueliners in offensive production with 10 points in as many games as he tallied twice and doled out eight assists.

Fort Frances forward A.J. Rupert also had a strong playoff run as he was second on the club in points with 11, including five goals.

Eight of those points came in the final three games of the league finals, which were all won by the Lakers.

Rupert also scored the game-winning goal in each of those three contests to help give his side their third straight title.

Other forwards to watch for are forwards Andrew Willner (CCM 2nd team all-star), Christian Ripley and Cole Tymkin (CCM rookie of the year) who finished in the top 10 in SIJHL scoring with 58, 49 and 48 points respectively.

Defenceman Roshen Jaswal, along with Ripley and Nolan Ross each picked up nine playoff points.

BETWEEN THE PIPES: Backstopping the Lakers in net is goaltender Pierce Dushenko.

Returning for his second straight Dudley-Hewitt Cup appearance, the 20-year-old netminder from Coquitlam, B.C., led all SIJHL goalkeepers in wins with 28.

Dushenko finished second overall in both goals-against average and save percentage at 2.68 and .920 respectively.

His four shutouts tied him for the SIJHL lead while his 1,052 saves were the third most of any league goalkeeper.

In the playoffs he posted a 7-2 record with a 2.64 average and a .920 save mark along with one shutout.

Dushenko’s netminding partner is Fort Frances native Brandon Bodnar.

In regular season play he posted an impressive 18-4 record with a pair of shutouts.

He also led the league in both goals-against average and save percentage at 1.94 and .935 respectively as a rookie.

He also won his lone playoff start.

DID YOU KNOW: Lakers head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan won a Dudley-Hewitt Cup as a
member of the Thunder Bay Flyers back in 1991 before going on to play NCAA hockey at Lake Superior State
University.

There he went on to win two NCAA hockey championships as a member of the LSSU Lakers of the then Central
Collegiate Hockey Association.

In 1995 he was named the CCHA’s best defensive forward and was also chosen as the CCHA’s playoff tournament
most valuable player that same year.

Strachan is a five-time SIJHL coach of the year, which is the most in league history.

AWARD WINNERS: Players on the Lakers that captured league awards in the SIJHL this season:

AMYOTTE’S AWARDS AND PROMOTIONS MVP: Dylan Robertson

GONGSHOW GEAR PLAYOFF MVP: Dylan Robertson

CCM HOCKEY ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Cole Tymkin

BEST DEFENSIVE FORWARD: Dylan Robertson

MOST SPORTSMANLIKE PLAYER: Andrew Willner

SIJHL COACH OF THE YEAR: Wayne Strachan

CCM 1ST ALL-STAR TEAM

Dylan Robertson, Forward
Nick Minerva, Defence
Wayne Strachan, Coach
Wayne Strachan, General Manager
Dale Cooper, Trainer/Equipment Manager

CCM 2ND ALL-STAR TEAM

Andrew Willner, Forward
Pierce Dushenko, Goaltender

FORT FRANCES FACTS: The Lakers are competing in their third straight Dudley-Hewitt Cup. … They have won the past three SIJHL Bill Salonen Cup titles and have played in five straight league finals. … Eight players who saw game action for the Lakers last season are featured on this year’s squad. … Fort Frances won a franchise record 46 games this season. … They finished fifth in the 131-team CJHL in the final Poinstreak Top 20 rankings. … Dylan Robertson led all SIJHL skaters in playoff goals with 10. … Robertson also led the way with five power play markers. … A.J. Rupert’s three game-winning goals paced all SIJHL skaters. They were all scored in the final three games of the league final against Dryden, including a Game 5 decider in overtime. … Robertson was second with two GWG. He also finished in front in this category during the regular season with seven game-winners. … Dylan Kooner’s five game-winning goals tied him for second in the league. Nolan Ross was right behind him with four. … Rupert had one game-winner in the regular season as well as five in 2014-15 while a member of the rival Minnesota Iron Rangers. … Cole Tymkin’s six points were the most of any SIJHL rookie in the playoffs. … Dylan Robertson had point streaks of 10 games or more twice this season. … In the past three seasons Fort Frances has combined to win 132 games. … 10 different players had five points or more in the SIJHL playoffs while 11 notched 25 points or higher in the regular season. … Fort Frances led the SIJHL in goals with 249 in 56 games and allowed a league-low 140 against. … They led the SIJHL in power play proficiency at 26.6% and were second on the penalty kill at 80.5%. … The Lakers went 3-2 at last year’s Dudley-Hewitt Cup. In round robin action they defeated the Toronto Patriots (OJHL) and the Dryden GM Ice Dogs (SIJHL) and lost to the Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL). They went on to defeat Toronto in the semifinal before falling to Sault Ste. Marie in the championship game. … The Lakers will look to become the third SIJHL side to win the Dudley-Hewitt Cup. The Fort William North Stars were the first to do it back in 2006 while the Minnesota Wilderness won it all back in 2013. … Fort Frances bench boss Wayne Strachan has won a record five SIJHL coach of the year honours.

For more information on the Dudley-Hewitt Cup visit the official CJHL – DHC website at centralcanadianchampionship.com.

All Dudley-Hewitt Cup games are available online at FASTHockey.com.