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Lorette Product Daly Holding Down the Fort

By Will Streilein

KENORA — From the moment he started his hockey career in Lorette, Man., Riley Daly has had quite the moving experience.

Daly, who now plays for the Fort Frances Lakers in the Superior International Junior Hockey League, says things started to change in his hockey career at the age of 16 when he decided to go to with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Neepawa Natives.

Riley Daly

Riley Daly

“During that camp I met some guys at camp who were cut from Neepawa and wanted to play with this new team, the Iron Range Ironheads,” recalls Daly looking back on the decision that eventually sent him South of the border.  “Ultimately they convinced me to go and play with them.”

As a result, Daly made the move to Hoyt Lakes, Minn., and spent two seasons with an organization that eventually changed its  name after the first season to the Minnesota Iron Rangers.

“It’s completely different living with a billet family” said Daly, a 6-foot, 170pound left winger. “I think, because of that, I’ve matured over the last couple of years.”

During two years in Minnesota, Daly played 86 games and  scored 22 points.

It was in the off season last year that a trade brought him back to Canada, into the border town of Fort Frances, Ont. He was now a member of the Fort Frances Lakers.

Daly recalls having some doubts about his future.

“I didn’t know how the other teams were,” he said. “It’s tough to base (your future) off the first couple games and then make expectations off of that.”

Ultimately things have worked out well with the Lakers. This season he has three goals and 17 assists in 51 games in Fort Frances.

“At this point it’s kind of surreal,” he admitted. “We’ve ultimately hit our expectations, we wanted to hit 40 wins this year and we did that.”

Daly gets the job done in front of his own net.

Daly gets the job done in front of his own net.

The Lakers dominated the regular season in the SIJHL compiling a 46 win campaign with only six regulation losses and a pair of overtime and shootout losses as well. That has the team ranked fifth in the CJHL national rankings heading into the post-season.

However, Daly says that right now, the chance to win a national title is the last thing on his mind.

“Right now we’re still looking forward to winning our own SIJHL playoffs,” he said. “We got the Iron Rangers and Thunder Bay, both good teams that can really push us. At this stage, we have to concentrate on that.”

The Fort Frances Lakers have emerged as one of the best junior hockey teams in Canada. After a long, roundabout journey, a kid from tiny Lorette, Man., has been a major part of that success.

Riley Daly warming up before a big game with the Lakers.

Riley Daly warming up before a big game with the Lakers.

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