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Derek R. Smith helps lead a different Laker team in 2006-07
Oct. 27, 2006
By LINDA BOUVET, LSSU Sports Information Director
Prior to every season, Laker hockey players fill out questionnaires that provide a biographical sketch of their backgrounds, interests and future goals. When asked, "What series are you most looking forward to," senior forward Derek R. Smith was one of a handful who noted, "Ohio State."
Smith is one of six Laker seniors who patiently waited for the departure of last year's 12-member senior class and his turn to help lead the team. He was anxious to get the 2006-07 season rolling at OSU, but he also wanted to see the Lakers' potential when tested by an opponent that has given them fits for six straight seasons.
"I am anxious to see where we are and how we match up," said Smith prior to the series, which resulted in a 1-0 loss and 7-6 overtime victory. Smith drew an assist on the Lakers' game-winning goal as the win snapped a 14-game winless streak against the Buckeyes.
Smith was undoubtedly pleased as four freshmen scored goals, three picked up assists and a rookie goaltender was credited with the win.
The following weekend at Clarkson, three freshmen accounted for six points as LSSU won the opener, 5-1, and lost the second game, 7-1. As a group, Laker freshmen and sophomores finished with four goals and seven assists in the series.
"We knew when we left last year that we were getting a bunch of new players this year," Smith said. "We've got some talented freshmen. Hopefully they mature fast enough to give us that extra push. They need to learn how the college hockey game is played, but we should be alright."
Smith has been a part of a Laker hockey program that is still evolving from being a defensive team to having a potent offense. LSSU coaches have recruited strong skaters and finesse players who should adapt well to NCAA rule initiatives that have made the game more offense-oriented.
Smith isn't necessarily "old-school," but considers himself to be a defensive-minded forward. He averages about 4.5 goals per season and has made impressive improvements in his +/- total.
"I think I'm still going to be an up-and-down right winger," he said. "I've always played a bit physical and thrown some hits. I haven't put up the numbers like I know I can score. Some scoring chances I get, I just don't convert. I do the basics, and if I get a goal I'm happy. I don't think I'm going to change my game, but hopefully I can be more of a leader for some of these freshmen."
Smith, an Elmvale, Ont., native, is one of five current LSSU players who came from the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, where Laker coach Jim Roque was a coach in the early 1990s. Roque also recruited former Laker standouts Kory Scoran and Nathan Ward from the SJHL.
Smith has roomed for four years with senior forward and SJHL product Trent Campbell, a Beauval, Sask., native and former Laronge Ice Wolves standout. Smith played juniors for the Estevan Bruins.
"We played about four games against each other during the year," Smith recalled. "We (SJHL players) might not be as big, but we have a little more finesse and a grit that you learn in Saskatchewan junior hockey. (Kindersley products) Troy Schwab and Josh Sim, they know it too. It gives us a bond. It's a rough, tough league and a good stepping stone."
Smith credits Bruins coach, Kelly Lovering, and youth coaches Pete Kenney and Dan Ritchie (Smith's uncle) for helping him reach the collegiate level. Smith is the youngest of three siblings (sisters Pam, 29, and Heather, 26), and began skating on outdoor rinks when he was two years old.
"I've always been a good skater because I was skating since I was so young," he said. "All of the other stuff had to come together."
Smith is a criminal justice major who will graduate this spring. He hopes to get a shot at professional hockey, but eventually wants to work for the Ontario Provincial Police. He spent last summer working for the OPP Marine Unit out of the Southern Georgian Bay Detachment in Midland, Ont. He spent every day in a boat, helping with safety and vessel inspections, and basic law enforcement.
"There are a lot of cottagers in the area, so there are break-ins, boat accidents and some drownings," he said. "There were three drownings in our area, but they were not during my shift. I dealt mostly with speeding and rules of the waterway.
"I got a good tan, and it definitely gave me some good experience for down the road. I saw how people react in the real world and how the police force works. It gave me a good idea of what might come in the future."
Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey