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Laker Hockey signs six during spring recruiting period

Frank Anzalone

June 3, 2003

SAULT STE. MARIE - The Lake Superior State hockey team signed four forwards, one defenseman and one goaltender to National Letters of Intent during the NCAA spring signing period.

The Lakers' list of recruits includes senior left wing Tim Krueckl, who transferred from Iona, which dropped its program at the conclusion of the 2002-03 season. Krueckl, a 6-3, 205-pounder, was the Gaels' second-leading scorer last season with 11 goals and 17 assists in 34 games. In three seasons, the Claresholm, Alb., native has 38 goals and 51 assists. He is a business major with a 4.00 grade-point average.

"This is a great gamble on our part," LSSU coach Frank Anzalone said. "Jim (Roque) did get to see him play against Mercyhurst. It is hard to do it in one year, but he is real excited about learning our system. He has size and a knack around the net, and he has scored in Division I hockey."

LSSU also signed forwards Derek Smith (Elmvale, Ont.,), Trent Campbell (Beauval, Sask.) and Matt Restoule (ValCaron, Ont.), defenseman Barnabas Birkeland (Buffalo, Minn.) and goaltender Justin Labrie (Invermere, B.C.).

"They all fit into our mold and the direction we're trying to go," Anzalone said. "We are trying to get the best players with the best character from the areas with which we are most familiar - Northern Ontario, Saskatchewan, Michigan and the USHL. We think we've done that."

Birkeland and fall signee Jeffrey Rainville (Blind River, Ont.) were teammates on the Soo Junior Greyhounds (Tier II) of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League. Rainville finished the season as the NOJHL's scoring leader with 56 goals and 54 assists. The former league rookie of the year was also a first-team all-star, while Birkeland, who is 6-0, 185 pounds, made the second team on defense. He totaled six goals and 28 assists in 42 games.

"Rainville has the ability to handle the puck and see the ice as well as any recruit going Division I," Anzalone said. "When he develops strength and maturity, he could become a very good college hockey player."

Anzalone described Birkeland as a defensive defenseman who understands zone coverage and can play on the power play. He also possesses leadership qualities.

Restoule, a 6-0, 200-pound right wing, totaled 32 goals and 55 assists in 48 games with the Sudbury Wolves of the NOJHL. He came on strong during the second half of the season while playing on a line with his brother, Scott. He totaled only six penalty minutes and was voted the league's Most-Gentlemanly Player.

"He is young, but wanted to start school this year," Anzalone said. "He has already solved the NOJHL, but he will need some time to grow and mature at this level. He has speed, good hands and a knack around the net."

Labrie, a 6-0, 180-pound goaltender, posted a 3.61 goals-against average and .899 save percentage for the Rayside Balfour Sabrecats, who also compete in the NOJHL. He posted a 14-8 record in 2002-03.

"He piqued our interest in January when he first appeared on the Rayside Balfour team," Anzalone said. "The way he stands up reminds me of Matt (Violin). He shoots the puck pretty well."

The Lakers' other two recruits come from the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. Smith, a 6-0, 195-pound right wing, totaled 34 goals and 40 assists for the Estevan Bruins and was 11th in the league in scoring. Campbell, a 5-10, 175-pound left wing, compiled 42 goals and 49 assists for the LaRonge Ice Wolves and finished third in the league in scoring. He was named to the All-SJHL Second Team.

"Smith is an up-and-down guy who can score," Anzalone said. "He's more of a two-way player. Campbell is an offensive guy with goal-scoring ability."

With the incoming recruits, the Lakers have improved their skating ability and "gotten a little faster," according to Anzalone.

"We have more recruits coming in who love to play hockey and have a lust for the game. None are nationally-known or superstars, but we are going in a good direction with this class. Hopefully another class of quality, good players will join those we already have."

The Lakers are also looking forward to having Soo Indians scoring leader Dominic Osman (Dearborn, Mich.) try out for the hockey team this fall. Osmun, who totaled 29 goals and 25 assists in the North American Hockey League last season, attended LSSU in 2002-03 in order to academically qualify himself for Division I hockey and is a walk-on candidate.

Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey
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