May 3, 2012

Lakers sign a forward and defenseman

SAULT STE. MARIE – Lake Superior State hockey coach Jim Roque signed defenseman Zach Loesch of White Bear Lake, Minn., and forward Austin McKay of Toronto to National Letters of Intent during the spring recruiting period.

Loesch and McKay will join defenseman Eric Drapluk of Pembrook Pines, Fla., who committed to LSSU during the fall signing period.

Loesch is a 6-4, 215-pound defenseman who totaled four goals and 16 assists during 44 games with the Pembroke Lumber Kings of the Central Hockey League. Pembroke, which won the 2011 Canadian national championship, claimed the 2011-12 CCHL regular-season title with a 51-9 record. The Lumber Kings were eliminated in Game 7 of their second-round playoff series against Nepean.

“We knew since Christmas that Zach Trotman was going to leave, and Zach Loesch emberged as a player who could step in and help us right away next year,” said Roque in reference to his junior defenseman who signed a professional contract with the Boston Bruins organization. “Zach is a real good defender and has a really good shot. He’s coming in in the same type of situation as Trotman, whose offensive game developed when he got here. He didn’t really show that during juniors. Loesch has the same upside to his game.”

McKay is a 6-5, 218-pound forward who finished third on his team and 20th in the Alberta Junior Hockey League in scoring by totaling 26-27—53 in 58 games. He also contributed two goals and five assists during seven playoff games with the Drayton Valley Thunder (27-27 regular season).

“We were looking to fill that last forward spot, and Doug Laprade saw him early in the year at the Alberta Showcase,” Roque said. “We identified holes in our lineup, and Austin is the kind of guy who can develop as a really good two-way player for us. He was a late bloomer and had a great final year of junior hockey. Being from Toronto, we knew a lot of people who knew about him, and that made it easier for us to bring him in. He’s always been tall and lanky, and his skating is getting better and better. He’s a big kid who will need some time to develop, but he can definitely become a regular in our lineup.”

Drapluk played two Junior A seasons with the Coulee Region Chill of the North American Hockey League and totaled five goals and 24 assists this season. The 6-1, 180-pounder led Chill defenseman in points and plus-minus (-2).

“Eric, Zach and Austin, along with T.J. Wees can fill the holes left by Trotman, Kyle Haines and Kyle Pobur,” Roque said. Wees, a rookie defenseman, appeared in five games for the Lakers in 2011-12. The Lakers also return defensemen Matt Bruneteau, Kevin Czuczman, Andrew Perrault and Zach Sternberg, but will have no senior defensemen on the roster in 2012-13.