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.

 

Series Preview: GLSW Weekend! #12 Michigan at Lake Superior State

 

(#12) Michigan: 3-2-0

Lake Superior State: 4-0-0

 

From #4 to #12 – Hail to the…Victors?

Michigan started the year off at #4 in the national polls, but slipped after a drumming put on by unranked Vermont, maintained their rank after beating Waterloo, but slipped to #9 before losing 6-3 to a stacked USNTP U-18 Team, then to #11 for their match with WMU. After splitting with #19 Western Michigan, they dropped to #12, even after sweeping St. Lawrence at home.

The Wolverines return only two of their top 5 scorers this season: Defenseman Quinn Hughes and forward Jake Slaker. Their top scorer last season was Cooper Marody, a junior, but he decided to go pro, and is currently with the Edmonton Oilers organization. This will also be a homecoming of sorts for Luke Morgan, who decommitted from the Lakers after an outstanding freshman year. It just so happens that former Michigan Tech head coach, and Damon Whitten’s former boss Mel Pearson was tapped to replace longtime & Hall of Fame head coach Red Berenson.

While this will not be the first time the Wolverines and Lakers have faced each other since the dissolution of the former CCHA, this will mark the first time Michigan has been back to Abel Arena since the 2012-2013 season, where the two teams split the weekend.

Even Keel for the Lakers

There’s been some nervous optimism going through the fanbase here in the Sault going into this weekend, with the Lakers being 4-0 on the year and 6-0 counting the exhibition series.

Of course, we’re hoping that the record goes to 6-0, especially considering that this weekend is Great Lake State Weekend! And we will have two Laker Legends in the house, being inducted into the LSSU Hall of fame: Former goaltender Darrin Madeley (1989-1992) and Mark Astley (1988-1992). Madeley had a fairly long post- college career, filling in for the Ottawa Senators. Astley played primarily in Switzerland, but had a few stints with the Buffalo Sabres. He also has his own banner hung up in Abel Arena, as he played with the Canadian National Team for 54 games, ultimately winning silver in the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics.

This will be the first major test for the Lakers, going against a nationally ranked team.  I don’t know if anyone can say that Michigan has more to lose than the Lakers have more to gain. Either way, it will be fun to see the blue and maize return to the Sault, and the stands ought to be packed.

 

On Friday night, the puck will drop at 7:37pm at Taffy Abel Arena, and 7:07pm Saturday night. If you have not ordered your tickets, I would urge everyone to order ahead of time to 1) guarantee your seat, and 2) avoid the long lines. If you are not able to make it to the game, or you are out of town, you can listen to the Voice of the Lakers Bill Crawford on 99.5 YESfm over the air or online, or watch the game on FloHockey.tv.

Eriksson goal propels Lakers to sweep of Chargers

Hampus Eriksson (24) netted the game winner for Lake Superior against Alabama Huntsville, giving the Lakers a series sweep (Mike Barrett/LHB)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Minor penalties come with power plays that last exactly two minutes of game time.  No more, less only if a goal is scored by the team with the power play.

Anybody who has been around the game, however, will say the power play doesn’t truly end until the penalized team regains control of the puck.

Hampus Eriksson’s game winner Saturday night is not on the books as a power play goal.  But, with the goal coming just four seconds after the expiration of a penalty, the argument exists that it was a power play tally.

Lake Superior (4-0-0, 2-0-0 WCHA) needed a two goal third period to rally past Alabama Huntsville (0-8-0, 0-2-0 WCHA) in the second game of their weekend series, picking up a series sweep in the process.

The Chargers, who are hungry for their first win of the season, struck first early in the second period on a goal by Jack Jeffers.  The freshman potted his second goal of the season on Lakers goaltender Mareks Mitens, who earned the start from head coach Damon Whitten.

With the shots close to even after two periods (18-17 in favour of the Chargers), Alabama Huntsville, in front of a home crowd of 3083, came out firing away at Mitens in the final period.  The native of Ventspils, Latvia, made several big saves to keep his team in the game.

Lake Superior found the back of the net just past the 7:00 mark of the third period when Anthony Nellis connected for his third goal of the season.  Assisted by Gage Torrel and Eriksson, the Breakyville, Quebec native got in all alone on Sinclair and now has five points (3-2—5) so far on the season.

Looking for the go ahead goal, the Lakers got their chance when Bailey Newton was called for interference with 9:46 to play.  While the 2:00 power play itself yielded no goal, one was scored by Eriksson just after the penalty expired and before the Chargers could gain control of the puck.

Holding down the fort, Mitens and the Laker defense held back Alabama Huntsville’s furious effort to tie the game, collecting the 2-1 win in the process.

In net, Mitens had 29 saves on 30 shots.  For the Chargers, Sinclair came up with 24 saves on 26 attempts.

Dating back to last season, the Lakers are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games on the road.  The flipside of that, however, is that, in the last 10 home games, Lake Superior is 2-8-0.  The Lakers will look to amend that this coming weekend when they play host to the University of Michigan.  Friday’s game is set for a 7:37 p.m. puck drop, while the Saturday game is at 7:07 p.m.

Three goal third period leads Lakers past Chargers

Alex Ambrosio (seen here taking a penalty shot last season) scored the game winner on an empty net in the Lakers’ 4-3 win over Alabama Huntsville (Mike Barrett/LHB)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — An oddity that the Lake Superior State Lakers fell victim to in their 2017-18 season finale against Ferris State occurred again in their Friday night matchup against The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

This time, the oddity worked out in favour of the Lakers.

Alex Ambrosio’s first career goal was the difference maker as Lake Superior (3-0-0, 1-0-0 WCHA) survived a late rally by Alabama Huntsville (0-7-0, 0-1-0 WCHA) in a 4-3 conference win.

What makes the game winner by Ambrosio an oddity is that the goal was an empty netter.

The Lakers came out of the gate strong, peppering Chargers goaltender Mark Sinclair with 19 first period shots.  Sinclair was sharp, turning aside all but one of those shots.  Lake Superior converted when Anthony Nellis intercepted a pass on a penalty kill and found Brayden Gelsinger going the other way.  Coincidentally, Gelsinger’s second goal of the season was also the second shorthanded goal for Lake Superior this year.

Alabama Huntsville’s offense did a much better job of generating shots in the second period, equaling the Lakers’ 9 shots in the middle frame.  The Chargers tied things up on an early power play goal when Tyr Thompson took advantage of Lake Superior’s Ashton Calder sitting in the box for tripping.  The goal sent the teams to the dressing room after 40 minutes tied one apiece.

The third period saw the Chargers, who were looking to get in the win column for the first time this season, outshot the Lakers 15-7.  It was the Lakers, however, that found the back of the net first when the Lakers’ alternate captains each found the back of the net.  Defenceman Collin Saccoman scored his first of the season early in the period, while Nellis picked up his second goal of the year with less than 8:00 remaining in the game.

Their backs against the wall, Alabama Huntsville cut the Lake Superior lead to one with 4:35 left in the game.  Brandon Salerno got the puck past Kossoff for his first of the season, making the score 3-2 Lakers.

Needing another goal to force overtime, the Chargers pulled Sinclair for a sixth skater.  Less than 10 seconds after Sinclair made it to the bench, Lake Superior came up with the puck and Ambrosio, earning his first goal as a Laker, appeared to ice the game with only 1:21 left.

Alabama Huntsville showed their resolve, pulling Sinclair again to try and force overtime.  With 22 seconds remaining, Connor James put the Chargers within one and kept his team very much alive.

Although they were a goal away from overtime, the Chargers could not gain the zone long enough to pull their goaltender again for another extra attacker.  A couple shots by Kurt Gosselin did no harm as the Lakers pulled out a tense 4-3 victory.

In goal, Kossoff stopped 25 of the 28 shots he faced, while Sinclair made 31 stops on 34 shots.

Series Preview: Lake  Superior State vs University of Alabama-Huntsville

UAH: 0-6-0

LSSU: 2-0-0

 

Charging in the Wrong Direction

The Chargers of Alabama-Huntsville are off to a pretty rough start this year, opening their season with four straight road losses, then two more at home against Arizona State. To be fair, however, the road losses were all against NCHC powerhouse teams, having faced the top three teams in that conference.

Mike Corbett returns as the bench boss, also returning are two of their top 4 points –getters in Defenseman Kurt Gosselin and Christian Rajic – Josh Kestner graduated last season, who was the top point-scorer, and Tyler Poulsen, who is now with the Rapid City Rush of the ECHL.

The Chargers in the coaches’ poll came in 9th in voting, 5 points behind #7 LSSU. In the media poll, conducted by UAHhockey, however, they were chosen to be #7, 12 points ahead of #8 LSSU. While the preseason polls don’t really mean much, it does show that these two teams are behind the same eight-ball, and this series could help decide who gets into the playoffs come March.

A New Seasons Means A New Hope

It was quite the offseason for the Lakers this summer. J.T Henke, Kyle Chatham, Aiden Wright and Ryan Renz all graduated, with Henke being the top scorer for the Lakers. Along with them, defenseman Matt McArdle graduated, and decided to transfer to Merrimack. Luckily the reunion went our way. All of this was topped off with a four-year contract extension for bench boss Damon Whitten, the departure of longtime assistant coach Rich Metro to Shattuck-St. Marys and the hiring of Zack Cisek from Notre Dame.

While the Lakers may have lost Henke, they have gained some talent in return. Many of the incoming freshman forwards have been noticeable on the ice. Looking at just the two Merrimack games, two freshmen, Pierre-Luc Veillette and Jacob Nordqvist are both tied for first in total points.

They return all three goalies. While it sounds like the starting two are basically set in stone, Bengert certainly has a chance at starting at some point this season if either Kossoff or Mitens gets into a slump. This is also the first time in a while where it feels like the third goalie will really push the top two to be better & to keep their spot. All in all this is a good thing, and should make for an entertaining season.

This weekend’s series will be hosted at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, AL. Puck drop is at 7:07CT, so you can catch Matt Pocket on 99.5 Yesfm at 8:07 EST. You can also stream the series from FloHockey.tv