During the spring signing period, four forwards, a defenseman and a goaltender have signed National Letters of Intent to play hockey at Lake Superior State.
The Lakers will have an 11-man freshman class heading into the 2006-07 season.
"We tried to find players who fit the way officials are calling games now," LSSU head coach Jim Roque said. "Maybe we won't be as big as we've been in the past, but we will skate a lot better. One of the kids has already been drafted (by the National Hockey League), and two others are rated to be drafted in the top five rounds."
Players who have signed an NLI during the spring recruiting period include forwards Pat Aubry, Matt Martello, John Scrymgeour and Nik Sellers (Plymouth), defenseman Steven Kaunisto (Sault Ste. Marie) and goaltender Pat Inglis.
The six players join fall signees Ryan Baird, Michael George, Simon Gysbers and Nathan Perkovich (Canton). The Lakers are expected to add a walk-on freshman goaltender and a mid-season transfer to the roster. This recruiting class will make up for the loss of 12 seniors to graduation. LSSU will be returning 14 letter winners in 2006-07, including six seniors.
"This freshman class won't be leaned on to carry the program," Roque said. "We can be patient with them, and they can play with good players. If someone gets to play with Troy Schwab or Trent Campbell, they will get good experience right out of the gate."
Kaunisto, a 6-0, 180-pound defenseman, will join Sault Ste. Marie native Marty Gurnoe on the Lakers' blue line. Last season, Kaunisto totaled three goals and 11 assists in 57 games for the Cedar Rapids Roughriders (United States Hockey League). He notched two goals in the USHL Playoffs and totaled 78 penalty minutes.
Scrymgeour, a 6-0, 190-pound forward, was the No. 3 scorer for the St. Michael's Buzzers with 28 goals and 30 assists in 45 games. St. Mike's won the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League title with a 49-12-5-3 mark and was ranked as high second in the Canadian Junior A national rankings.
Sellers, a 5-10, 180-pound forward, led the former Soo Indians in points and assists in 2004-05, then went with Kaunisto to Cedar Rapids in 2005-06. He compiled 15 goals and 26 assists in 59 games with the Rough Riders.
Martello, a 6-0, 205-pound forward, led the Vaughan Vipers in scoring with 28 goals and 38 assists in 48 games and was named the most-improved player in the OPJHL South Division. He was ranked 17th in the OPJHL in scoring.
Aubry, a 6-1, 185-pound forward, was the Kanata Stallions' No. 2 scorer with 22 goals and 39 assists in 59 games. The Stallions compete in the Central Junior Hockey League.
Inglis, a 6-4, 205-pound goaltender, finished second in the Alberta Junior Hockey League in saves with 1,660. During the 2005-06 season with the Calgary Canucks, he was 21-28-4 with a 2.97 goals-against average and .910 save percentage.
Perkovich, an eighth-round NHL draft pick by New Jersey in 2004 who committed to LSSU last fall, finished 17th in the USHL in scoring in 2005-06. He totaled 28 goals and 24 assists in 56 games with the Chicago Steel. Gysbers is ranked 153rd on the NHL's Central Scouting List for the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, which will be held June 24. He was the OPJHL Northern Conference Defenseman of the Year after totaling eight goals, 24 assists and 94 penalty minutes for the Stouffville Spirit, who won the North/West Conference title with a 26-10-9 record.
George, finished fourth in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League in scoring with 35 goals and 39 assists for 74 points. He led the Battleford North Stars to a 38-12-2 regular-season record and Itech Conference title. George totaled 74 goals in three seasons with the North Stars.
Baird's Fort Williams North Stars team beat St. Mike's to claim the Dudley-Hewitt Cup (central Canada Junior A title) and reached the Royal Bank Cup (Canadian national) semifinals. Baird totaled 14 goals, 42 assists and 96 penalty minutes in 46 games for the North Stars, who finished 50-2-0 in the Superior International Junior Hockey League.