Column: How did we get here?

“And you may ask yourself, ‘Well, how did I get here?’”
Once in a Lifetime, The Talking Heads

After the euphoria of last night’s WCHA Championship fades, that is a question many Laker fans and fans of college hockey will be asking.  How did Lake Superior State punch a ticket to the NCAA Tournament?  There have certainly been stranger things in this strange year, but this is one that deserves exploration.

To see how we got here, we need to go back to the 2013-14 season.  The first season of the WCHA in its current configuration (and its soon to be former configuration) found the Lakers as an afterthought in a conference full of afterthoughts.  The teams of the Big Ten and NCHC had just deserted their former leagues, with the remnants joining together in an attempt to survive.  Nobody really knew how this league would shake out.  For proof, go look at the media poll for that season.  Bemidji State, picked to finish 8th, received a first place vote.  Lake Superior was picked for 9th place, ahead of Alabama Huntsville, who was toiling as an independent the seasons prior.

That season started off promising for the Lakers, with sweeps of Robert Morris and Union (who went on to win the national title).  But, as had happened so often, Lake Superior collapsed in the second half of the season, finishing in 8th place.  By virtue of tiebreaker with the Beavers, the Lakers missed the league tournament.  Head coach Jim Roque, in the final year of his contract, was not renewed.

After a nationwide search, then Athletic Director Kris Dunbar settled on Damon Whitten, who had assistant gigs at Wayne State, Alaska Anchorage and, most recently, at Michigan Tech.  Laker fans knew to expect growing pains, but probably not what they received – an 8-28-2 record and a through dismantling by Minnesota State in the WCHA Quarterfinals.  Technically, Lake Superior shouldn’t have even been in the tourney at all.  Only NCAA sanctions against Alaska (and goaltender Gordie Defiel standing on his head) got them in there.  The lone bright spot of the season was winning the Florida College Hockey Classic, which took some luck in itself.

The following season showed improvement.  While the Lakers still had many issues, they were starting to see an offensive core develop, with guys like Gage Torrel, Anthony Nellis, Diego Cuglietta, J.T. Henke and Mitch Hults.  These young guys were still raw though, and it showed against the league powers like Michigan Tech and the Mavericks, who made a habit of running up the score.  Lake Superior turned many heads with a 2-0 shutout of Mankato in the first round of the league tourney.  58 saves by Defiel forced a game three, but the Lakers could not complete the upset.

2016-17 – my final year as a student and my first covering the Lakers in any capacity – started off with much promise, including a 6 game win streak, a 5-1 win over Minnesota State and the emergence of freshmen Max Humitz, Luke Morgan, Kris Bindulis and Collin Saccoman.  But reality struck back, as a rough November set the tone for the remainder of the season.  Defenseman Owen Headrick defected to the OHL’s Erie Otters midway through the season and the Lakers found themselves short on the back end.  The WCHA Tournament saw an early exit, topped off with a humiliating 8-0 loss to Michigan Tech, leaving many to ponder how a promising start ended so painfully.  Raising more eyebrows were decisions by Bindulis and Hults to go pro early and forward Morgan transferring to Michigan after just one season.

A summer of change swept over Sault Ste. Marie, as the University was dealt the untimely loss of President Tom Pleger.  Athletics saw a shakeup also, with AD Dunbar leaving to become commissioner of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC), where the Lakers’ DII teams compete, and the departure of others.  In came David Paitson, who had an impressive background in pro sports.  Like last season, Lake Superior had a promising start, including a 3-3 tie with defending national champion Denver on the road.  Nick Kossoff set a school record with 63 saves in the game.  However, injuries and midseason departures had an adverse effect on the squad, most notably that of Josh Nenadal, who was suspended from the team for off ice issues.  Overshadowed were the efforts of freshmen Lukas Kälble, Mareks Mitens, Hampus Eriksson, Yuki Miura and midseason acquisition Alex Ambrosio, among others.

Despite a late season rally, the Lakers missed the playoffs in the final year of Whitten’s original deal, leaving many to wonder if he would be brought back.  It was apparent the team was talented, but record wise, they were still mired in the depths of the league.  Perhaps this was why many in college hockey were so shocked when it was announced Whitten had received a four year extension.  Paitson defended the decision, explaining the Athletics Department had a problem with stability and such an extension would help alleviate that (others, such as men’s basketball coach Steve Hettinga and volleyball coach Dave Schmidlin, had also been extended earlier in the year).  Nonetheless, doubts were sown in the minds of many.

2018-19, the first year on Whitten’s new contract, was a year to prove something to the league.  The Lakers did just that, with a great start that never slowed down.  Winning the Great Lakes Invitational in December capped off a promising first half.  Lake Superior did not disappoint in the second half either, finishing in 4th place in the league standings and hosting a playoff series.  A sweep of Bemidji State led to a semifinal series in Mankato, where the Lakers’ season came to an end.  Regardless, the critics had been silenced and Cuglietta became the first Laker in the Whitten era to join the 100 point club.  Ashton Calder and Pete Veillette were key contributors among the freshmen.

Virtually everybody outside of Sault Ste. Marie believed the Lakers were a one hit wonder.  After all, the team lost a ton of scoring to graduation and it was hard to see where the goals would come from.  Unable to overcome injuries, Lake Superior settled down the standings like many believed they would.  Despite Louis Boudon, Dustin Manz and Arvid Henrikson making fine debuts, the only real highlights the season had to offer were Humitz notching his 100th point and a game against Alabama Huntsville in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, an attempt to promote Laker hockey to fans across the St. Mary’s river.  The Lakers fell in 3 games to Bemidji State in what turned out to be the only round the WCHA played, as the Coronavirus epidemic began sweeping across the country right after.

And that brings us to this year, the season that was.  For starters, most leagues played their entire schedule within the conference to avoid unnecessary travel.  This meant the Pairwise, the ranking system used to determine who will qualify for the NCAA Tournament, was virtually useless.  The committee would effectively be making the decisions in “a smoke filled room.”  The only sure way to qualify was to win the conference autobid in the league tourney.  After a solid season that saw Lake Superior finish in 2nd place, the Lakers went on a strong run through the WCHA Tournament, defeating Alabama Huntsville, Bemidji State to set up a championship matchup versus Northern Michigan, who was on a Cinderella run.  Lake Superior took care of business with a 6-3 win and Ashton Calder was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

There is a ton to like about this team.  A proven netminder in Mareks Mitens, with a strong defensive core in front of him.  Will Riedell and Lukas Kälble headline the blue line corps, with Jacob Nordqvist, Mitch Oliver and Arvid Henrikson playing as sturdy as they come.  Up front, the top two lines (especially the Veillette-Boudon- Calder unit) are a threat to score at any time, while the 3rd and 4th lines can eat up clock and can score themselves when the occasion calls for it.  In particular, transfers Brandon Puricelli (Minnesota Duluth) and Jack Jeffers (Alabama Huntsville) stand out, with Puricelli heating up of late.

The national media has not been impressed with Lake Superior, viewing them as the afterthought they’ve come to accept them as.  Despite having better head to head records against Bowling Green and Bemidji State, the Lakers have trailed both teams in the polls all season.  Even as late as last week, after the Falcons had been upset by Northern Michigan, Bowling Green was viewed as more tournament worthy than Lake Superior.  But those who have watched the Lakers play see them as a solid squad, as a complete team.  With their win over the Wildcats, Lake Superior State has left nothing to chance — their return to the national stage will not be denied.

Tonight the Lakers will find out who they face in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.  How ever this plays out, it has been an incredible season.  Years ago, I read in USA Today’s NHL preview (I forget the year) the following line: It takes a crockpot, not a microwave, to cook up a contender.  With this team, that has proven true.

Hopefully by next season, fans will be permitted to attend games in person.  The lucky few that did this season (either on the road or in an official capacity) bore witness to something special.  They may not be flashy, but flashy doesn’t guarantee results.

25 Seasons in the Making…The Lakers are Heading Back to the NCAA Tournament!

WOOOOO!

After a very interesting game tonight, the Lakers prevailed over the NMU Wildcats to win the WCHA tournament, the Jeff Sauer Trophy, and an auto-bid into the NCAA Tournament!

Pretty much every seat that could be taken at Buffalo Wild Wings in the Sault was taken, and we all celebrated our team’s 6-3 victory.

So, what’s next? Tomorrow night over on ESPN U at 7pm Eastern we will see where the Lakers land during the selection show. These are the auto-bids, being the conference champions:

Hockey East: UMass

ECAC: St. Lawrence

NCHC: North Dakota

B1G: Minnesota

WCHA: Lake Superior State

Atlantic Hockey: American International

Currently we do not know where each team will land, who the At-Large bids are, or where anyone is going, so it ought to be exciting to see where the Lakers will travel to and who they will play in the coming weeks.

So again, a round of applause for the players, coaches and staff, and Believe in Blue!

Lakers onto WCHA Finals – All UP Finals Scheduled

Well, Hello there!

It’s been a bad year for posts here at Laker Hockey Blog. Between not able to go to games and what’s going on with the world at large, it’s been hard to find the passion to report this season. But something that happened tonight warrants a post.

With Minnesota State-Mankato being upset this afternoon by the Northern Michigan University Wildcats, and the Lakers skinning the Beavers, we will have an all UP WCHA finals slated for tomorrow night.

That’s right…

NMU Wildcats vs. LSSU Lakers for the Sauer Trophy, and an Auto Bid into the NCAA Tournament.

Should the Lakers win it, it will be the first time since the 1995-96 campaign that the team will have made the big show, and a new banner hanging in Abel Arena.

There’s still 60+ minutes of game to play tomorrow, but hopes are high that this year may be the year. But no matter what, we here at LHB and the Laker Fanbase are proud of all the players, especially considering the circumstances they’ve had to endure for the season – between COVID outbreaks and empty stands, it has to be tough.

So let’s all wish the Lakers luck tomorrow night. Game goes live on 99.5 Yes FM, both over the air and online tomorrow night at 8:07 Eastern Time.

2020-21 Season Preview

Lake Superior State recaptured the Father Cappo Cup from rivals Northern Michigan last season.

It should go without saying that this will be an odd season, but this will be an odd season.

Lake Superior State is set to begin their 55th season this Saturday and Sunday against Michigan Tech at the Taffy Abel Arena.  For the time being, no fans will be in attendance, in accordance with the recent epidemic order issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.  This is expected to last three weeks but, if this calendar year has been any indication, that could change.

Last season, the Lakers finished 14-23-4 overall, with a 11-14-4 mark in Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) play.  Lake Superior dropped from fourth place to seventh and finished their season with a loss to Bemidji State in the first round of league play.

The team did have moments to celebrate, such as recapturing the Father Cappo Cup and putting together a four game season sweep of Ferris State (their first since 1994-95).  Given the success felt from the previous season, however, the season was disappointing to many.

Outside of Sault Ste. Marie, there was much activity in the college hockey world.  Alabama Huntsville and Alaska Anchorage separately announced their programs would fold following this season.  While the Chargers received an outpouring of support from the hockey community and will play on, the Seawolves have not yet received such a reprieve and have elected not to play this season.  St. Thomas will be joining the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) with the seven schools, Lake Superior included, who will leave the WCHA after this year.

Ashton Calder puts the puck past the Denver netminder during Great Lake State Weekend (GLSW). Calder will be one of those looking to lead the offence.

Offence:

There is no getting around this one — Max Humitz will be missed.

The native of Livonia became the second Laker in two seasons to eclipse 100 points while donning the anchor.  His 22 goals were fourth best in the nation and second in the league (behind Northern Michigan’s Griffin Loughran).  Unlike some players, who spend much time on the bench in their first season and slowly build up to become an elite talent, Humitz was in integral part of the team offence since his first season.

The rest of the departing players did not make much of an impact on the scoresheet, with Brayden Gelsinger the next forward down the list with 8 points.  Four of the Lakers’ returning forwards had at least 20 points last season, led by Ashton Calder (12-16—28) and Louis Boudon (6-21—27).  While they benefited with being on the Humitz line, they showed their prowess as well.

Lake Superior has four seniors up front in Yuki Miura, Alex Ambrosio, Hampus Eriksson and Chase Gamelin.  Eriksson (6-18—24) and Miura (2-12—14) lead the scoring among the senior class.

Six new faces help fill spots up front, including two transfers: Jack Jeffers from Alabama Huntsville (6-6—12 in 2019-2020 season) and Brandon Puricelli from Minnesota Duluth (1-1—2 in 12 games).  Jeffers came to Lake Superior during the week that the Chargers had dissolved.  After an incredible outpouring of support from the hockey community, Alabama Huntsville will play this season, but much damage was done, as the players were free to walk once the program initially called it quits.  Because of the circumstances, Jeffers will not be required to sit out a year, per NCAA guidelines.

Four freshman round out the new forwards, consisting of Spencer DenBeste (15-14—29, NAHL), Joshua Wildauer (22-35—57, BCHL), Tyler Williams (10-21—31, BCHL) and Benito Posa (7-7—14, USHL).  All four are Michigan natives.

Lukas Kälble was named captain for his senior campaign by head coach Damon Whitten.

Defence:

Lake Superior already knows what life will be without Collin Saccoman, as he missed the second half of last season.  Tyler Anderson and Alec Semandel departed along with co-captain Saccoman, known for his shot-blocking prowess.

Two seniors will anchor the blueline, including captain Lukas Kälble and Will Riedell.  Riedell (5-13—18) led the Laker defence in scoring, followed by Jacob Nordqvist (2-11—13).  While not scoring many points, Arvid Henrikson and Mitch Oliver logged significant time on the blueline as well.

Joining them are three freshmen: Jeremy Gervais, Artyom Borshyov and Jacob Bengtsson.  A trend of more players from outside of North America has continued with the defence, as Bengtsson (Sweden) and Borshyov (Belarus) join an increasingly international cast. It should be noted that Borshyov did captain the Belarus U18 World Junior team in 2017-2018.

Despite his vision impaired by teammates at times, Mareks Mitens remained a steady presence between the pipes.

Goaltending:
Mareks Mitens returns for his senior season.  Last year, Mitens won the starting job and started 38 of 39 games, posting a 2.57 goals against average and a .911 save percentage.  Roman Bengert graduated, following limited action.  Seth Eisele, who did not play last year, also returns.

Joining the tandem is Ethan Langenegger.  Langenegger, who hails from Kamloops, B.C., comes to Lake Superior after two seasons with Salmon Arm (BCHL).

Will Riedell holds the puck in the zone in front of the Alaska Anchorage bench. The Seawolves will not compete this season, adding to the uncertainly surrounding the program’s future.

Outlook:
Lake Superior has been projected to finish 6th in what may be the finale of the WCHA.  This is where they were picked to place last season as well.  They certainly can improve on that, but that will take somebody stepping up and filling the void left by Humitz.  If Calder and Boudon remain on a line together, they could draw attention away from the third forward, helping to ease the blow.

The bigger question may be if they will finish at all.

The state of sports has been turned on its head and college hockey is no exception.  Alabama Huntsville and Alaska Anchorage announced that they were folding their programs back in the summer and, while the Chargers have at least a temporary reprieve (raising over $500,000 in a week), the Seawolves have already said they are not playing this season, which seems to signal the end of their program though there is a movement to save it.  Many other schools out east have said the same thing.

Make no mistake: there is a very real chance this season could end like last season, with nobody being crowned champion.  There are mixed emotions all throughout the world on resuming sports.  While we have seen many professional sports resume and conclude their seasons, collegiate athletics is very different, in that its participants cannot live in a bubble like what the NBA and NHL did.  They are student athletes and have classes to attend.

At the end of the day, all we can do is our part and hope that others do theirs.

Alive and Well

Hello Laker Nation! This post is well past due, I think.

First, I hope you and yours are doing well during this pandemic, and the fallout from it.

Second, I’d like to apologize for the lack of posts since March. With the only real news for the Lakers coming in the form of a few commitments, and the ever changing situation for sports this year, there really hasn’t been much to report on.

Combining all that along with the situation the U.S & the rest of the world is in, what with COVID and the upcoming elections, I know I haven’t been worried as much about this space as I should be, especially with the high hopes we had at the start of all this.

But now the NHL is back in action with the playoffs, and school is (for better or worse) back in session, I felt like it was time to give this quick update.

While I hope the season plays out relatively normally, I’m still not holding my breath with it starting at the normal time especially with some of the rumors I’ve heard concerning a few things up at the former Fort Brady, we’ll be here to cover the series as they happen as best we can. Hopefully we can also make a few more changes around here too in the meantime.

So for those of you that have stuck around, thank you. For those this post may bring back, welcome back.

Humitz, Boudon named to WCHA All-League teams

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) today announced the members of the All League teams for the truncated 2019-20 season.  Two Lakers were among the 24 honourees: Max Humitz and Louis Boudon.

Humitz, who served as co-captain with Collin Saccoman this season, had a career year, posting 22 goals and 13 assists for 35 points.  He became the second Laker in as many years to eclipse the 100 point mark, doing so with a goal against Alaska Anchorage.  Humitz finishes his career in Sault Ste. Marie with 111 points, the most for any Laker since joining the WCHA.

The native of Livonia was a third team selection last season and a rookie team pick in 2017.

Boudon, who played on a line with Humitz for most of the season, racked up 6 goals and 21 assists for 27 points.  He finished in the top 10 nationally among rookies in scoring.  Boudon, who hails from Grenoble, France, finished 4 points behind Minnesota State’s Lucas Sowder for the league lead and was third on the Lakers in total points, after Humitz and Ashton Calder.

In addition, Boudon was named the February Rookie of the Month and also garnered two Rookie of the Week accolades from the league.

Minnesota State and Bemidji State dominated the teams, with 7 players from the Mavericks and 6 from the Beavers.

Playoff Series Preview: Lake Superior State at #10 Bemidji State

LSSU: 13-21-4

Bemidji: 20-9-5

Beavers Bite Back

Prior to Saturday night, the Beavers had won eight in a row (counting a technical tie, but winning on 3v3 OT), outscoring opponents 31 to 10, including a 5-0 shutout against then #19 Northern Michigan. They’re being led in scoring by senior Adam Brady, who posted 17 goals, 14 assists for 31 points during the regular season. He is followed closely by sophomore forward Owen Sillinger, who tallied a 12-18—30 point season and junior Aaron Miller with 12-16—28.

Sophomore Zach Driscoll owns the net for Bemidji State, having played in all but 4 games this season, and posting 19 wins, 7 losses and 4 ties. He has only a 1.6 GAA and a .937 save %.

This team will be a tough nut to crack for the boys in blue, since during the regular season the Lakers only took one game from the Beavers, a 3v3 OT win at Abel Arena. Otherwise Bemidji outscored the Lakers 18-5.

The Lakers and Playoff Woes

The Lakers have been locked in to the seventh seed for the tail end of the season, but managed to finish the season fairly strong, winning six of their last eight (including a SO win), and had a strong performance against a bad Ferris State team to end the season, outscoring the Bulldogs 9-2 on the weekend.

Even though the Lakers have some big time scorers in Max Humitz (19-13—32), Ashton Calder (12-14—26), Louis Boudon (6-20—26) and Pierre-Luc Veillette (12-12—24), they’ll need to get some help on the backend in order to make this weekend work. Our boys in blue will also need to be solid on the blueline if they really want a shot at an upset.

As always, Mareks Mitens holds the keys for the net, though Roman Bengert did tally a win in the final game of the season against the Bulldogs, so if the series goes to three games, I wouldn’t be too shocked to see him out there in relief.

If history counts for anything, these are going to be some rough games. Save for last season, the Lakers have had a recent history of either blowouts or shutouts. If they lose but keep the score close & low, I’ll see it as a win, personally.

Puck Drops at 8:07 ET in Bemidji, Minnesota. The game can be heard locally at 99.5 YESFM, or through TuneIn. Flohockey will have the video broadcast, and if you are local to the Soo, Buffalo Wild Wings will be having watch parties for the games this weekend.

Boudon, Riedell cop Player of the Month accolades

In its final month of regular season play, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) today presented the honourees of the Player of the Month awards for February.  In a testament to the strong finish to the season, two Lakers are among the recipients: Will Riedell and Louis Boudon.

Riedell, a native of Greensboro, North Carolina, posted the best month, scoring-wise, of his collegiate career.  The junior blueliner had 3 goals and 6 assists for 9 points.  The 9 points were tied with Michigan Tech’s Colin Swoyer for the league lead in points among defencemen.  In addition, Riedell captured his first Player of the Week award in early February, following a series against the Huskies in Houghton.  The junior has 16 points on the season, a career best and most among Laker defenceman.  Riedell finished ahead of Bowling Green senior Alec Rauhauser and Michigan Tech’s Swoyer for the award

A day after receiving his second Rookie of the Week award, Boudon was honoured as Rookie of the Month.  The forward from Grenoble, France, had 8 points this past month (2 goals, 6 assists), including 1 goal and 3 assists this past weekend in Big Rapids against Ferris State.  Coincidentally, Boudon’s earlier Rookie of the Week award came against the Bulldogs following their trip to Sault Ste. Marie.  Boudon’s 26 points (6G, 20A) are 2nd best for Lake Superior, trailing senior Max Humitz.  In claiming the award, he beat out Bemidji State defenceman Elias Rosén, and Zack Rose, goaltender for Bowling Green.

In addition, Lake Superior’s Ashton Calder was nominated for Forward of the Month, but the award was claimed by Alaska’s Steven Jandric.  Minnesota State netminder Dryden McKay took home Goaltender of the Month.

 

Lakers reclaim Cappo Cup in Senior Night split with Wildcats

Max Humitz (centre) carries the Father Cappo Cup after being presented with it. The Lakers claimed the Cup for the first time since 2016 (Mike Barrett/LHB)

The Cappo Cup has returned to the Soo.

The Cup, first presented in the 1991-92 season by the late Monsignor Louis Cappo to the winner of the season series between Lake Superior State and Northern Michigan, was awarded to the Lakers for the first time since 2016.

Following a 6-1 win on Friday, Lake Superior (11-21-4, 9-13-4-4 WCHA) fell 5-1 to the Wildcats (17-13-4, 15-10-1-1 WCHA), splitting the very physical series.  The Lakers received the Cup on virtue of 7 goals to 6.

“I don’t like the result tonight, so it’s bittersweet with the way the game went, especially with last night,” said Lakers head coach Damon Whitten, following Saturday’s game.  “It’s nice, we haven’t had it here in a few years.  It’s back where it belongs and we’re going to do our best to make sure it stays here for a good stretch.”

Friday: Lakers 6, Wildcats 1

On Friday night, Lake Superior got to Wildcat goaltender Nolan Kent early, as two quick goals by Max Humitz and Ashton Calder led Northern Michigan head coach Grant Potulny to replace Kent with John Hawthorne.  Humitz added another goal before the end of the first period, giving the Lakers a 3-0 lead.

Although Northern Michigan gained a 13-8 shot advantage in the middle period, it was the Lakers who added to their goal total, with marks from Brendan McKay and Pete Veillette.  Although Luke Voltin got the ‘Cats on the board in the third, Bryan Basilico’s first goal of the year helped seal the fate for the visitors with a 6-1 final.

“We’re two U.P. schools.  They play hard, we take pride in playing hard and playing the right way,” he said on the physicality.  “I thought [Friday’s]  game was a bit cleaner between the whistles.  [Saturday] I felt it broke down a bit, making it chippier, but a hard played rivalry is what we expect.”

Saturday: Wildcats 5, Lakers 1

Saturday was a busy night at the Taffy Abel Arena.  In addition to the game, the team was celebrating Senior Night with a pregame on ice ceremony for its six seniors, while the festivities for the annual Check Slash Survive (formerly Pink in the Rink) game also took place.  Whitten extended his thanks to all those involved with the various events of the evening.

“This was a senior class that is very well loved,” he said.  “They’ve had great success on the ice, in the classroom and in our community.  They’ve been a huge building block for our program.  It’s a great group and we’re really going to miss them.”

Playing in their final home games were Humitz, Basilico, McKay, Brayden Gelsinger and Ian Johnston.  Also honored before the game was defenseman Collin Saccoman, who sustained a season-ending injury in November.

As for the game, however, a stark reversal of fortune took place, as the Wildcats were the ones who opened up the big lead.

Mitchell Slattery opened the scoring, followed with another goal by Voltin.  In the second period, Lake Superior’s McKay was given a 5 minute major and game misconduct for checking from behind.  On the ensuing power play, Joseph Nardi and Griffin Loughran each connected, making the score 4-0 for Northern Michigan.

Lake Superior had opportunities to bet on the board, with two breakaway opportunities by Humitz and Chase Gamelin, but Kent was much sharper than the previous night, foiling both Lakers in their attempts.

Although Louis Boudon got the Lakers on the board in the third period, it was too little, too late for Lake Superior.  An empty net goal by Nardi wrapped up the scoring and a 5-1 win for Northern Michigan and series split.  The Wildcats snapped a five game losing streak in the process.

With the season series split 1-1, the Cappo Cup was decided by goal differential.  By a one goal margin, the Lakers captured the trophy for the second time in Whitten’s tenure behind the bench.

Lake Superior has one more weekend of play before the WCHA Tournament begins.  The Lakers will travel to Big Rapids for a series against Ferris State.  The two teams last met in early November, with the Lakers earning their first home sweep of the Bulldogs since the 2010-11 season.

“We’ve been really good for a while,” commented Whitten.  “We were a bit off tonight and couldn’t bounce back after a flat start, but we want to keep playing the way we’ve been playing.  We have been getting great goaltending and getting different guys chipping in with secondary scoring.”

Weekend Preview: Northern Michigan University & Check.Slash.Survive

So, as you all know this would normally be the spot where we preview the upcoming series and make a few (sometimes funny) jokes. But the fact of the matter is that, even if we don’t get a single point over the next two weeks, we are in the playoffs. Anchorage needs to sweep the next two weeks in regulation to tie us in points, but we would hold the tiebreaker I believe. But they are facing Bemidji this weekend, and Alaska next weekend.

So…

There is the Cappo cup, but it’s just for this weekend series, and I’m not sure if there are any special rules due to that. And the Lakers will, of course, do their best to earn points as we could leapfrog Bowling Green (five points behind) and possibly catch Michigan Tech (assuming they get swept both weekends), but it’s looking like it’s going to be another trip to Mankato, or possibly Bemidji.

But almost more importantly, this Saturday is both Senior night and Check.Slash.Survive, which used to be called Pink in the Rink. A few years back it was rebranded so as not to focus just on breast cancer, which is generally represented by the pink ribbon.

This year’s C.S.S is focusing on Lung, Prostate and Colon cancers. The Check.Slash.Survive organization will be selling shirts, hoodies and other sort of apparel and swag, and a jersey auction will be done during the game Saturday night. The funds raised will go towards various local charities and organizations.

Six seniors will also be honored during pre-game Saturday. Brayden Gelsinger, Ian Johnston, Bryan Basilico, Max Humitz, Colin Saccoman and Brendan McKay will all be honored. Sadly, this will also mean for the first time since the 2012-2013 season, next year will be the first year without a McKay brother. The end of an era for sure.

So come on out, 7pm puck drop both nights. Saturday pre-game will be the senior night festivities. Otherwise, 99.5 YESFm locally or on Tunein will have the call, or Flohockey.tv will have the broadcast.