Senior LSSU forward Jon Booras
Jim Roque takes over the Lake Superior State coaching reins from the departed Frank Anzalone and inherits a Lakers team that went 9-22-7 a year ago and won just 32 games over the past four years under Anzalone in his second tour of duty at LSSU.
Roque was an assistant under Anzalone and was hired as the permanent head coach over the summer. Former Soo Indians (NAHL) head coach Joe Shawhan is also aboard as an assistant coach along with the returning Tim Christian.
The Lakers lost just three seniors from last season and brought in seven freshmen. Forward Bo Cheesman and defenseman Ryan Reid graduated along with goalie Matt Violin.
"Our team returns a lot of experience,” said Rowue. “Obviously, we have a proven goaltender in Jeff Jakaitis, and I think our defense is sound.”
Jakaitis will be LSSU’s No. 1 goalie this year after going 5-18-4 last season, but with a respectable 2.85 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage. With Violin having graduated, senior William Ciccone and freshman Vince Wheeler will battle for the backup role.
In front of Jakaitis, seniors Mark Adamek, Alex Dunn (Waterford), Ren Fauci, Eric Hill (Sault Ste. Marie), Kory Scoran and captain Steve McJannett are all back on the back end along with junior Barnabas Birkeland and sophomores Derek Smith and Justin Gutwald (Grosse Pointe). Freshmen Marty Gurnoe (Sault Ste. Marie) and Matt Wheeler also join the fray. John Nogatch left the team midway through last season to play juniors with the Northern Michigan Black Bears and is now sitting out a year at Wayne State to become eligible next fall.
The Lake Superior forwards may pose a question mark for the time being, however.
“I think our biggest challenge is to score goals,” said Roque. “We feel some guys throughout our lineup have that kind of ability. I think they just need to be given the opportunity to try and showcase their ability to score some goals. That will be one of our biggest challenges without giving up some of the defensive play we have had over the past few years.”
Senior Jon Booras led the Lakers in scoring last season and is back to build on his ten-goal total from 2004-2005. Fellow seniors Mike Adamek, Colin Nicholson, B.J. Pelkey and Nathan Ward are back in town along with juniors Trent Campbell, Dominic Osman (Dearborn), Jeffrey Rainville, Matt Restoule and Derek R. Smith. Lone sophomore Dan Eves (Lake Orion) is also back in Sault Ste. Marie to welcome in freshmen Tom Knutson, Jason Miller, Troy Schwab and Josh Sim.
"We look forward to a great season in Sault Ste. Marie,” Roque added. “We have a lot of challenges in front of us, but we look forward to it.”
Lake Superior State's largest senior class in school history will take to the ice for the first time this season when the Lakers play host to York (Ont.) University and the U.S. Under-18 Team in exhibition games this weekend.
F Bo Cheesman (signed with Wheeling – ECHL)
D Ryan Reid (signed with Gwinnett – ECHL)
G Matt Violin (signed with Vancouver)
F Tom Knutson (CD Selects – EJHL)
F Jason Miller (Humboldt – SJHL)
F Troy Schwab (Kindersley – SJHL)
F Josh Sim (Kindersley – SJHL)
D Marty Gurnoe (Soo – NAHL)
D Matt Wheeler (Weyburn – SJHL)
G Vince Wheeler (Bancroft – OPJHL)