Lake Tahoe Lakers under new management, leading to solid beginning of season

Madison Schultz / Special to the Tribune
Aaro Laurila moves the puck down the ice.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – United States Premier Hockey League team, the Lake Tahoe Lakers are trailblazing through the beginning of their 2023/24 season. Under new management and a new roster of team players, the hockey team is eager to continue ramping up and showing out on the ice for Lake Tahoe.

The “pathway to college hockey,” the USPHL is a hockey league composed of over 70 teams across the country; from New York to Washington state. Players work their way up in the league across the teams, to ideally make their way to a college team, or the National Hockey League.

Chad Olson, the Lake Tahoe Lakers’ new head coach and team manager, and Andrew Radke, new assistant coach, together are looking forward to applying their knowledge, skillset, and motivation to the new team. Both Olson and Radke are bringing their years of experience in hockey to the Lakers, with the overall goal of enhancing and building a stronger team.

“I was previously the assistant coach of the Lake Tahoe Lakers, when they were known as the Lake Tahoe Blue, back in 2014,” Olson said. “Between then and now, I bounced around coaching different organizations, and found I was missing Tahoe, so I linked up with the team’s owner, and the rest is history. It felt like it was time to come back home.”

Aaro Laurila moves the puck down the ice.

With his previous roots in Lake Tahoe, Olson met with Radke to present the opportunity to assist him in being involved in the new team’s management. Similarly to Olson, Radke has a passion for the sport.

“I’ve been around hockey my entire life, I grew up playing competitively, and played throughout college,” Radke said. “The past nine years, I’ve worked in tech in the Pacific Northwest, where I linked up with Chad, and the opportunity arose to move to Lake Tahoe and help out the assistant coach, so I took the chance and made the move to South Lake Tahoe about six months ago.”

The 2023 season officially began in mid-September, and with a fresh revamp from new management, the team is off to a positive start, paving the way to a successful season.

“So far this season, we have eight wins and six losses,” Olson said. “Last year’s team had won three games out of 45 total, and we only brought back one returning player, with 29 brand-new players, along with us as the two new coaches; so everything is a new regimen, and it’s a fresh start for the team as a whole in a really positive way.”

The Lakers’ new list of team members boasts standout hockey players, including Austin Tessier, the Lakers’ new team captain, from Canada. The team is also hosting four new players from

Finland, including Aaro Laurilla, the Lakers’ new leading scorer; and the “dynamic goaltending duo,” Sebald Debiak from France and Kaeden Edstrom from Colorado.

The new coaches and players are excited to be a part of the Lake Tahoe Lakers, and are currently on the uptick for winning games this season thus far, winning three consecutive home games last weekend, the first time since Feb. 2022.

Looking forward, the team is motivated to keep their momentum, and over the years, continue establishing themselves as a successful hockey program in the league, as well as in Lake Tahoe.

“We ideally want to win a national championship and our team is motivated to do just that,” Olson said. “We want to become a winning, sustainable [hockey] program. The ultimate goal is always to win a national championship, but to continuously compete with the other top programs in the league.”

“We want to help develop players and assist them in moving on to the next level,” Radke said. “Whether it’s a scholarship to an NCAA-accredited college, or to go on to play pro, it’s a big goal of ours to see success in the program for the players.”

The Lake Tahoe Lakers are under new management and have a new roster.

Along with the new team goals, the Lakers are also excited to be a pillar for the Lake Tahoe community, informally coining themselves as the “team for Tahoe locals.”

“We love to see the Lake Tahoe community show up for our home games,” Olson said. “Right now, we are on pace to beat the first year’s record. We’re trying to make some history for Lake Tahoe.”

The Lakers have upcoming home games scheduled for Nov. 10, 11, and 12; and the following weekend of Nov. 17, 18, and 19. The Nov. 11 game will be Military Appreciation Night, where the Lakers will be playing against Ontario.

The Lake Tahoe Lakers play all of their home games at Tahoe Ice Arena, located at 1176 Rufus Allen Blvd., South Lake Tahoe, Calif. For more information on the team’s schedule of upcoming games, visit their Instagram account, @laketahoelakers, or visit their website,

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