Series Preview: Lake Superior State AT Alaska

 

Alaska: 4-10-2

LSSU: 7-6-1

 

Striking Iron

It was just a few short weeks ago that the Nanooks and Lakers faced each other for the first time this season, where the Nanooks got not only their first win of the year, but the first sweep (albeit with an official tie). Since then they’ve split with Alabama-Huntsville, were swept against Michigan Tech and swept Ferris State. Last week against the Bulldogs marked the start of a three week stretch for the Nanooks of home games before travelling back south to Bemidji.

 

The top three scorers consist of Steven Jandric, Colton Leiter and Chris Jandric, all of whom have 10 points each, with Jandric having 3 game winning goals. Junior netminder Anton Martinsson has started in 10 of Alaska’s 18 games, losing all but two of them, with the two being ties. Freshman Gustavs Grigals has given them all four of their straight wins.

 

Expected Results

In the last two series, the Lakers have won 1 of 4 games, that being against U.P rivals Northern Michigan, where they currently lead in goal differential of +1, with the Cappo Cup series currently tied, and won’t reach it’s conclusion until the second to last series in February. Last weekend’s series against #3 Minnesota-State Mankato went about how I expected, a sweep in favor of the Mavericks. They’re playing at a completely different level than the rest of the league (without having seen Tech play yet), and certainly deserve to be in consideration for #1 in the country.

Nellis, Cuglietta and Torrel still lead the team in scoring, with Anthony Nellis running away with 15 points. Colin Saccoman and Jacob Nordqvist earned WCHA honors for November, those being Defenseman of the Month and Rookie of the Month respectively. Saccoman is certainly an important piece on the Laker’s backend. Nordqvist, a freshman defenseman, is looking to be that next anchor piece on the blueline after Sacco. Congrats to those two! In goal, Kossoff has pretty much run away with the starter, having a 5-2-1 record compared to Mitens 2-4-0 record.

There will be a lot for the Lakers to deal with this week: Travelling across the country, the jetlag, maybe actual polar bears and moose. But the Carlson Center features an Olympic sized sheet of ice. With our slate of international players, managing this should be easier than it has in the past, as most international leagues use the large sheet. 

 

The games this weekend start at 11:07pm local time, or 7:07pm Alaska time. 99.5 YesFM will have a feed, both locally over the air and online at  YesFM.net and on TuneIn. I am not sure if it will be Bill Crawford, Matt Pocket or if we will be hearing Alaska’s feed like we normally do. And like every weekend, FloHockey, the official streaming service of the WCHA will be carrying the game. As of now, I am unaware of any viewing parties, probably due to the late start time.

#4 Minnesota-State Mankato AT #20 Lake Superior State

 

#4 Minnesota State-Mankato: 10-2-0
#20 Lake Superior State: 7-4-1

Mighty Magical Minnesota Mavericks May Muster Men

Another year, another Mankato team in the national rankings, and for good reason. They swept now #8 Boston University , stole a game at #16 North Dakota (and came within a goal of tying for the Saturday game), swept instate rivals #10 Minnesota. In addition to these ranked wins, they’ve also handedly swept Alaska & Ferris, but split last weekend against Bemidji.

Leading the team in scoring are a pair of juniors and a sophomore: Parker Tuomie, Marc Michaelis and Jared Spooner. The three combine for 48 points. The netminders are a whole ‘nother animal, having the duo of senior Mathias Israelsson and freshman Dryden McKay split time. Israelsson has won all 8 games he has appeared in, whereas McKay is 3-2-0 in five appearances.

Lucky Lakers Last

After splitting with Upper Peninsula rivals Northern Michigan University, may people, myself included, did not think the Lakers would remain in the rankings, despite the loss being sealed with an open net. The loss also marked the fourth straight Saturday that the Lakers have lost on.
Gage Torrel, Ashton Calder & Brendan McKay each had a multi-point weekend, with defenseman Steven Ruggiero scoring the lone goal Saturday night.
Minnesota-State has been the Lakers kryptonite since the nWCHA started, having won all but a single regular season game, having won 5-1 in the 2016-2017 series, and won game 2 of 2015-2016’s WCHA playoffs.

While they did lose on Saturday night, other than some slow skating, the team seemed to play better than what we’ve been used to for a Saturday, which is great, though there are things that need to be cleaned up

As always, show up to support your Lakers at the Taffy Abel Arena this weekend. Puck drops at 7:07pm. Those of you that are out of town can listen to the game with Bill Crawford and John Forest on 99.5 YESFM, at yesfm.net or on TuneIn.

Happy Thanksgiving

I realize that we have a lot of readers on here who are not American, but to those that are, I would like to wish each and every one of you a Happy Thanksgiving.

 

To those that are outside of the States, I hope all is well with you and yours, and that you have a fantastic finish to the week.

Series Preview: NMU @ #20 LSSU – Cappo Cup, Round 1

 

Northern Michigan: 5-7-0

#20 Lake Superior State: 6-3-1

 

“I am Boo the little tiger…”

The early part of the season has been tough on Northern Michigan, who coming off a fantastic season last year was hoping to start out strong, but they have faced three ranked opponents before this weekend (#4 St. Cloud State, #9 Bowling Green and #17 Cornell), before coming to Sault Sainte Marie and taking on the new #20 Lakers. Of the three previous series, Northern has stolen one game from Bowling Green, a 2-0 shutout for Atte Tolvanen, who has come out of nowhere for the Wildcats over the last few seasons.

 

NMU’s top three scorers for the year involve a pair of senior defencemen – Troy Loggins and Adam Rockwood, and surprisingly a defenseman, Philip Beaulieu. In terms of straight goals, you can add Darien Craighead to the list, a junior with 5 goals on the year.

 

Grant Potulny, 25-15-3 in his second season at Northern Michigan has been riding Atte Tolvanen in net, who has appeared in all 12 games this season. It’s only 12 games in, but one has to imagine that Tolvanen has got to be feeling that workload, and the Lakers may be able to exploit that this weekend.

 

“Tomorrow, noon, we hit the air and then take up the strain/And watch the Mary Ellen Carter rise again”

The Lakers this year have been on a bit of a wild ride. Starting the season with sweeps at both Merrimack and Alabama Huntsville, stealing a game from #12 Michigan, getting swept by an upstart Alaska team and really giving it to Bowling Green 5-0 Friday night. 

If you’ve been following some of the various media outlets for college hockey, it’s been a fun week being a Laker fan. Anthony Nellis was featured in a USCHO article, the Lakers were ranked #20 by USCHO with 78 points, Sault native Ashton Calder scored his first collegiate goal; was named WCHA Co-Rookie of the week; and that goal was also the game winner in the 5-0 blowout of Bowling Green which also made the WCHA Plays of the Week.

Hopefully the team doesn’t eat too much turkey tonight, as they’ll need to be in top shape this weekend. The Lakers have come out of the gate swinging, and I believe could be ranked higher both within the WCHA and nationally if it wasn’t for the plague of late goals. This Wildcat team won’t just lay down, especially with the rivalry the way it is.

 

Puck drops both nights at 7:07pm. They can be heard locally at 99.5 YESfm, or online at www.yesfm.net or on TuneIn. You can see the action yourself at the Taffy Abel Arena, or online at Flohockey.tv.

Series Preview: Lake Superior State at Bowling Green University

Bowling Green: 7-2-2

LSSU: 5-2-1

 

Flying into #10

The Falcons this year have had an interesting schedule, having played 8 non-conference games, and only two series worth of WCHA play. Amongst those NC games, they split a home-and-home with Robert Morris, where the home team took the win, went up 3 points on #19 Western Michigan and dunked #4 Ohio State 8-2. This kind of play has landed them in the #10 spot this week, after splitting with Northern Michigan and forcing a tie & win with UAA.

 

They are led in scoring by a trio of sophomores: Max Johnson  (6-7-13), Brandon Kruse (3-10-13) and Connor Ford (6-5-11). Ryan Bednard looks to be their go-to netminder so far this season, having played in 9 of the 11 games. He currently has a 1.33 GAA and a .943 Save %. Eric Dop has similar numbers, though he does only have 3 goals against to Bednard’s 12.

 

Chris Bergeron returns for his 9th season as the Falcons head coach, with a record of 146-143-39.

 

“If it’s brown, lay down. If it’s black, fight back. If it’s white, goodnight.”

The Lakers learned the hard way the above phrase. They both fought back against the Nanooks and was fought against. Even though it was stated both on this website along with other online outlets, the Nanooks were a better team than their record gave them credit for, but it doesn’t make the sweep any easier to swallow.

 

Not only will the Lakers have to fight back against a very good Bowling Green team. The good news is that the Lakers tend to play pretty well against them, and have been some of the more fun games that I’ve been able to witness.

 

There is one takeaway from the last couple of weeks that the coaching staff will need to clean up: Using the bottom two lines more. I don’t have the numbers, but it certainly seemed to me that the fourth line had maybe 4 minutes total last weekend, with the third getting just a few more. Yes, it’s great that the top 2 lines are firing on all cylinders, but history has proven, both in the NCAA and the NHL that you need to be able to roll all 4 lines to win championships.

 

As always, the game will be on http://www.yesfm.net, or can be seen on Flohockey.tv. If you living near Bowling Green, please support your Lakers at the Slater Family Ice Arena. Puck drops at 7:37pm Friday and 7:07pm Saturday. Also, for those in the Sault, Laker Athletics will be hosting a viewing party at Buffalo Wild Wings starting at 7:30pm Friday.

Series Preview: University of Alaska at LSSU

 

Alaska: 0-7-1

LSSU: 5-1-0

 

Bad Intros and Bad Scoring

(Seriously, look up the Nanook’s old intro video).

Alaska has had a very tough schedule to open their season which has only allowed them to score 9 points in 8 games. Their top three in scoring have a total of11 points between them, and only 3 goals. After lighting up Simon Fraser for 13, the Nanooks have faced Arizona State, #5 St. Cloud State, #9 Denver & #7 Minnesota State on the road, save for St. Cloud, which was played in Fairbanks.

This week, they travel to the lower 48 yet again to Sault Sainte Marie. They bring in 10 Freshman, with only 4 seniors returning this season. Their head coach is a man named Erik Largen, who previously coached for Marian down in Division III hockey, where he went 18-4-4.

The University of Alaska skates on a large Olympic sized ice sheet at home, so they are nearly always a good skating team, and with all the traveling they’ve done as part of the early season, they are a team that the Lakers can’t underestimate. Hell, they only lost to Denver in regulation once, losing in Overtime that Saturday night.

 

All Aboard The Hype Train!

The Lakers have started their year out at 5-1, losing last Saturday to their former CCHA rivals, Michigan and their head coach Mel Pearson. They’ll be looking to built that momentum, and on paper, there doesn’t seem much that Alaska can really do to slow it down, but the team has to give it their all.

The Laker’s scoring leaders are led by two seniors, Anthony Nellis (5-5-10) and Gage Torrel(0-7-7), followed closely by upstart freshman Jacob Nordqvist (1-5-6). Add in Hampus Eriksson, and you have 4 point-per-game players.

The goaltending save % looks good for both Mitens and Kossoff, at .933 and .900 respectively. Their Goals Against Average is a bit subpar, as they’ve been getting peppered with shots. Whoever stands in net this weekend will have to try and stay awake and not let any soft goals in.

 

Puck drops both nights at 7:07pm. They can be heard locally at 99.5 YESfm, or online at www.yesfm.net or on TuneIn. You can see the action yourself at the Taffy Abel Arena, or online at Flohockey.tv.

Nordqvist named Rookie of the Week; Humitz play makes Play of the Week list

A play by junior forward Max Humitz against Michigan this past weekend was named a Play of the Week by U.S. College Hockey Online.com (Mike Barrett/LHB)

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — The Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) today released the recipients of its Player of the Week accolades for the weekend of November 2nd and 3rd.  This week, Lake Superior State freshman defenseman Jacob Nordqvist was honored as the Rookie of the Week.

Nordqvist, who hails from Gothenburg, Sweden, had a goal and two assists during the weekend series against Michigan.  His goal on Friday night was the game winner, while his two assists came in Saturday’s loss to the Wolverines.

This is the first time Nordqvist has been honored by the league for his efforts and the second time a Laker has earned Rookie of the Week.  Pete Veillette was so-named for his performance against Merrimack.  Coincedentally, Nordqvist was an honorable mention that week for Defensman of the Week.

In earning the accolade, Nordqvist beat out Northern Michigan forward Garrett Klee, Minnesota State forward Julian Napravnik, forward Owen Sillinger of Bemidji State, Michigan Tech defenseman Colin Swoyer and Ferris State forward Hunter Wendt.

Also receiving nominations from Lake Superior were senior forward Anthony Nellis and senior netminder Nick Kossoff.  Nellis had a five point weekend (one goal and four assists), but was beat out by Minnesota State junior Charlie Gerard.  Likewise, Kossoff (who stopped 28 of 30 shots on Friday night) lost out to Northern Michigan’s Atte Tolvanen.

Humitz play makes USCHO Play of the Week list

In addition, a goal scored by Max Humitz on Friday night was named by U.S. College Hockey Online.com as one of the Plays of the Week.  Humitz’s goal made the score 4-1 Lake Superior en route to a 5-2 win by the home team.

This is the second time this season that a play by Lake Superior has made the weekly list.  Anthony Nellis’ penalty shot against Merrimack was the top play of that week.

Lakers can’t carry Friday momentum, dealt first loss of season

Defenseman Collin Saccoman had a late goal against the Wolverines, but too little time remained on the clock for the Lakers to avoid their first loss of the season (Mike Barrett/LHB)

SAULT STE. MARIE — Coming off of a convincing 5-2 win against the University of Michigan on Friday night, the Lake Superior State Lakers could not maintain their positive momentum, as the Wolverines (4-3-0, 0-0-0 Big Ten) dealt the Lakers (5-1-0, 2-0-0 WCHA) a 5-3 loss, their first loss of the 2018-19 season.

As he has done in each series this young season, head coach Damon Whitten started Mareks Mitens in net following the Friday night start by Nick Kossoff.

As they had the previous night, the Wolverines opened the scoring.  Josh Norris put the puck past Mitens less than 4:00 into the game.  Michigan took a 2-0 lead when Jake Slaker found the back of the net later that period.

Lake Superior got on the board themselves late in the first period when senior forward Diego Cuglietta netted his third goal of the year.  Cuglietta, who hails from Kamloops, British Columbia, beat Michigan netminder Strauss Mann with just 15 ticks left on the clock.

Coming out of the locker room trailing 2-1, Lake Superior wasted little time tying the game up. Senior Anthony Nellis, who had a four point night on Friday, evened things up just 1:36 into the period.  Nellis’ goal was assisted by Gage Torrel and Jacob Nordqvist, who both had two assists on the evening.

The game did not stay tied for long, however, as the Wolverines scored twice in exactly two minutes.  Jack Becker made the score 3-2 Michigan and Quinn Hughes added to that on a power play.  Michigan scored another goal in the second period when Slaker potted his second of the night while shorthanded.

While the third period saw the shots favor Lake Superior 18-6, the home team could not claw their way back into the game.  Defenseman Collin Saccoman (who had 5 blocked shots on the night) put the Lakers within two, but his goal, which came with 1:13 left in the game, was too little too late, as the Wolverines skated away with a 5-3 win.

In goal, Mitens stopped 24 of 29, taking the loss in the process.  Across the ice, Mann made 28 saves out of 31.

During the first intermission, the five inductees into the LSSU Sports Hall of Fame were honored on the ice, including two former National Champion hockey players.  Darrin Madeley (1989-92) and Mark Astley (1988-92), both key components in guiding Lake Superior to the 1992 title, were inducted into the Hall of Fame earlier that day, along with Ben Dewar (basketball, 1999-2003), Jean (Carbeno) Kreidler (Volleyball, 1980-84), and Margaret (Olson) Pollard (softball, volleyball and basketball, 1977-81).

Lake Superior is home again next weekend when they face the Nanooks of the University of Alaska Fairbanks on Friday, November 8th and Saturday, November 9th.  Opening faceoff for both games is at 7:07 p.m. EST.

 

Four point night by Nellis guides Lakers past 12th ranked Wolverines

Anthony Nellis (seen last season against the USNTDP) had a four point night (1G, 3A) in leading Lake Superior past Michigan (Mike Barrett/LHB)

SAULT STE. MARIE — Talk about a night that had it all.

A four point night by a forward, two players scoring their first collegiate goals and a visit from an opponent who has not seen the Taffy Abel Arena in a long time.

Lake Superior (5-0-0, 2-0-0 WCHA) downed the Michigan Wolverines behind a goal and three assists by Anthony Nellis en route to a 5-2 win on Great Lake State Weekend (GLSW).

The Wolverines (3-3-0, 0-0-0 Big Ten) opened the scoring when Josh Norris got the puck past Laker goaltender Nick Kossoff.  The goal was not enough to diminish the home crowd of over 3100, however, and the Lakers responded with two goals 43 seconds apart.

A delayed penalty to Michigan’s Nicholas Boka was called right before Brendan McKay put a shot on net.  While Hayden Lavigne made the initial save, Nellis was waiting and buried the puck.

With Boda off for hooking, the Lakers capitalized on their power play when Brayden Gelsinger scored, giving the Lakers a lead.

Starting the second period, Lake Superior kept the goals coming, as Jacob Nordqvist potted his first in a Laker uniform just 39 seconds into the period.  A short while later, Humitz scored a power play goal, making the score 4-1 Lakers.

Factoring into both goals were Lukas Kälble and Nellis.  By earning a helper on Gelsinger’s earlier goal, the senior from Breakyville, Quebec had a hand in all four Laker goals to that point.

The Wolverines scored another when Jake Slaker made the score 4-2.  Aided by Laker penalties, Michigan sustained much offensive pressure in the waning moments of the second period, but Kossoff came up big for his team, as the Lakers returned to the dressing room up by two with 20 minutes to play.

Down by two, Michigan attempted to rally, but the Laker defensive corps kept the Wolverines from generating many shots.  Lake Superior appeared to score the back breaker, but the shot by Gelsinger went off the crossbar and was confirmed no goal on the replay.

Regardless, the Lakers managed to get their back breaker when Gage Torrel dropped the puck back to the blue line, where a defenseman drilled the puck past Lavigne.  That defenseman was Steven Ruggiero, who earned his first collegiate goal.

In net, Kossoff made 28 saves on 30 shots.  Lavigne stopped 25 of 30 in the loss.

Michigan, under head coach Mel Pearson, came into the weekend ranked 12th in the USCHO.com poll.  They started the year ranked at number 4, but have dropped in each subsequent poll.

The teams conclude their series tonight.  Puck drop is set for 7:07 p.m.

New Features around Taffy Abel Arena

It appears that some new banners went up around Abel Arena during the offseason, featuring the 5 championship teams, Hobey Baker finalists and some history on the Victory Bell. To see them in person, you’ll have to venture on up to the arena.