Series Preview: Lake Superior State at Alaska

Alaska: 10-12-0

LSSU: 7-18-1

Bearing Down on the Standings

It’s been no secret over the last few seasons that the Fairbanks based Alaska Nanooks have had some consistency issues over the last few seasons, usually dwelling in the middle to low-mid of the standings, but still usually making playoffs. This year, however, they are proving themselves this year, sweeping or splitting with some tough opponents: Starting out conference play by sweeping Michigan Tech in Houghton, shutting out then #9 Penn State in Happy Valley, taking another win from Tech in Alaska.

The Nanooks are currently sitting in the #4 spot in the WCHA, which is also the last home playoff spot.

They are led in scoring by a trio of junior forwards, Max Newton (6-8-14), Justin Young (7-6-13) and Steven Jandric (5-8-13). In net they are leaning heavily on Anton Martinsson, the senior out of Klippan, Sweden. They have played sophomore Gustavs Grigals, out of Latvia, having played in 9 games with the same tally of wins.

Bailing Water

The Lakers are sitting just 3 points ahead of Ferris who currently own the final playoff spot, and just 4 points ahead of Alaska Anchorage, who they will face again in two weeks at Abel Arena. This is a far cry from the success the team had last season, but certainly seems closer to what we as Laker fans have come to expect in recent years.

The one bright spot on the team has been Max Humitz, who is currently sitting at 97 career points. Humitz is leading the team in both overall points and goals by quite a bit, with 21 points and 14 goals. Junior center Hampus Eriksson is second in scoring with 16 points. Pierre-Luc Veilette is second in goals with 6.

Goaltending has been pretty much Mareks Mitens exclusively, playing in 25 games, with a 7-16-1 record. Roman Bengert has appeared in 3 games, going 0-2-0. Freshman Seth Eisele has yet to appear in a game.

In other news, it appears some players have left the team at some point. Forwards Owen Guy and Roberts Bluegers, defensemen Bennet Vida have all been removed from LSSU’s roster on their website. It appears Vida is now with Trinity Western University of the BCIHL, playing in 2 games so far with 1 assist. Neither Guy nor Bluegers have updated profiles on Elite Prospects. One would have to guess the reason they left was lack of playing time. We here at LakerHockeyBlog would like to wish them the best with their future endeavors, and also thank them for their time as Lakers.

The Lakers play in Fairbanks Friday and Saturday, puck drops at 7:07 AT, which should be -4 hours from Eastern time, so the game would start at 11:07pm eastern. As always, the game will be on Flohockey.tv for a fee, or you can listen in on 99.5 YesFM locally or on TuneIn.

Holiday Tournament Preview: Catamount Cup

The field for the 2019 Catamount Cup.

For the third year in a row, and fifth time in head coach Damon Whitten’s tenure, Lake Superior State will partake in a holiday tournament, returning to Burlington, Vermont for the Catamount Cup.

The event is usually referred to as a tournament, but all of the matchups are preset.  Host Vermont always plays the late games, likely so their fans may watch them at their regular starting time.  Disadvantages of this setup include the possibility of two teams going 2-0, no true championship game and the possibility that the tourney champs will not be honoured on the ice, as is custom.

Lake Superior joins Union and Providence in Burlington, all of whom will look to dethrone the host Catamounts, who won the cup last season.  The Lakers play the Friars in the early game at 4:00 p.m. EST on Saturday, and face Vermont at 7:05 p.m. EST on Sunday.

About the Lakers

It was a rough first half for Damon Whitten’s crew, as the Lakers (6-15-1, 4-9-1 WCHA) have been unable to meet the lofty expectations that came about from last seasons’ success.  After an opening weekend sweep of Merrimack and playing Denver close, Lake Superior has picked up a home sweep of Ferris State (the first since joining the WCHA) and two non-consecutive wins against Bowling Green, but have struggled mightily, especially on the road.

Making his mark on the score sheet is senior Max Humitz (11-6–17), who currently sits at 93 points in his collegiate career, followed by Hampus Eriksson (4-11–15) and Pete Veillette (5-7–12).  Junior Mareks Mitens has seen the lion’s share of starts, and has a 3.16 goals against average and  .894 save percentage.

About the Friars

The Lakers will have their work cut out for them if they are looking to win another holiday tourney, following last season’s win in the Great Lakes Invitational.  Providence enters the tourney ranked #13 in the USCHO poll, #15 in the USA Today poll and currently sits atop the Hockey East standings.  The Friars (9-5-3, 6-4-2 Hockey East) look to be the favourites in this event.  Sophomores Jack Dugan (6-27–33) and Thopmson (13-14–27) sit 1-2 in scoring nationally, and junior Greg Printz (11-9–20) has also put up a hat full of points.  In net, senior Michael Lackey has a  2.45 GAA and a .915 SV%.

Providence and the Lakers have a couple of connections: assistant coach Ron Rolston was a member of Jeff Jackson’s staff during the championship era, while Lake State’s current Sports Info Director, Kelsey Smith, is an alumni of Providence College.

Both teams played in the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh during the 2017-18 season, but did not wind up facing each other.  The Friars downed Arizona State and host Robert Morris to claim the title, while Lake Superior fell to Robert Morris, but defeated the Sun Devils for a 3rd place finish.

About the Catamounts

…And now for something completely different.  The Catamounts enter their tournament with one of the worst records in the nation at 1-11-2 overall and 0-8-1 in league play.  Kevin Sneddon’s bunch has not won since October 19th, when they defeated St. Lawrence in their 2nd game of the year.  They are winless in their last 12 games, although ties against Boston University and Arizona State are interspersed.

In scoring, defenceman Andrew Lucas leads the ‘Cats with a paltry 7 points, followed by forwards Ace Collins (3-3–6) and Jacques Bouquot (1-5–6).  Between the pipes, Stefanos Lekkas has played each game, posting a 2.86 GAA and a .908 SV%.

During the 2015-16 season, Lake Superior and Vermont played on the first day of the tourney.  The Catamounts won 1-0 en route to securing the tourney crown against Colgate the following night.  Lake Superior appeared to tie the game in the final minute of regulation but it was judged that goaltender Patrick Munson had been interfered with.

About the Dutchmen

Union, under bench boss Rick Bennett, can have a bearing on where the Lakers finish in this tournament due to ties being decided by total goals scored.  The Dutchmen (5-12-0, 3-5-0 ECAC) come into the tournament having won 3 of their last 4, after an abysmal start to the year which saw them go 1-7 in October.  Leading the team in scoring is senior Anthony Rinaldi (4-7–11), while goaltender Darion Hanson has put up a 2.79 GAA and .907 SV%.

Mitens named WCHA Goaltender of the Week

Mareks Mitens earned his second career WCHA weekly honour with his performance against tenth-ranked Bowling Green this past weekend (LHB File Photo)

In what are likely the final weekly awards to be presented in the 2019 calendar year by the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), Lake Superior State goaltender Mareks Mitens was named Goaltender of the Week for his performance against 10th ranked Bowling Green State this past weekend.

On Friday night, Mitens stopped 34 of 35 shots faced against the Falcons, taking the tough-luck 2-0 loss against netminder Eric Dop.  Saturday saw him allow two goals by the visitors, but picked up the win thanks to a Hampus Eriksson tally in overtime, which enabled the Lakers (6-15-1, 4-9-1 WCHA) to earn a 3-2 win and series split.

All told, Mitens made 64 of 67 possible saves (for a .955 save percentage) against a team ranked 13th in the nation in total offence.

In collecting his second ever WCHA weekly honour, Mitens beat out Austin Shaw of Ferris State, Nolan Kent of Northern Michigan and his opponent this weekend in Dop.

In addition to Mitens’ win, fellow Lakers Max Humitz and Louis Boudon were nominated for Forward of the Week and Rookie of the Week, respectively.

This was the first weekly award won by a Laker since early November, when Collin Saccoman, Boudon and Ashton Calder each won an award.

Series Preview: #10 Bowling Green at Lake Superior State

#10 Bowling Green: 11-5-1

Lake Superior State: 1-14-1

Bowling Green Recuse Win Against Chargers

The WCHA is having a great year in the national standings, with Minnesota State having been in the #1 spot for the last month or so, Bowling Green has also been up and down the rankings most of the season & the league currently has MTU and NMU receiving the most votes of teams not ranked.

The Falcons of Bowling Green are coming off an interesting weekend. After what looks to have been meltdown of epic proportions from Alabama-Huntsville Chargers on Friday night, allowing 9 unanswered goals after going up 3-0, and two players taking 10 minute misconducts within 2 minutes of each other in the second, the Chargers forced a close game Saturday night. The two battled to a 2-2 tie, with Bowling Green taking the extra conference point in 3×3 overtime.

Senior Defenseman Alec Rauhauser leads the team in points, totaling 17, followed b a pair a junior forwards, Connor Ford with 17, and Cameron Wright with 16 – 11 of those being goals, which leads the team. Junior Eric Dop continues to be their workhorse goalie with a 2.06 GAA and a .914 Save %.

Lakers Gored by Minnesota State

This season has been a rough one for our Lakers, to say the least. They took a drumming last week against the Minnesota State Mavericks, being outscored 7-1, with Saturday night being a shutout. Mareks Mitens also sits on top for Division 1 goalies for goals against, with a whopping 60, 7 more than UConn’s Thomas Vomacka, a Nashivlledraft pick, and 10 more than Wisconson’s Daniel Lebedeff. He sits 64rd out of 71 ranked goalies in Save Percentage (.886) and 64th in Goals Against Average (3.34).

Now, don’t get this wrong – I am not suggesting that this is Marek’s fault alone. In fact, it’s the opposite.  We sit tied in 8th place overall for most penalties, with 97 on the year (Alaska leads the group by a mile, with 128 penalties), resulting in 238 penalty minutes, which is good enough for 14th place. Again I say that the coaching staff either needs to come up with different combinations, or try out some kids who don’t normally play. At this point, why not see what Vida can do, for instance? Or the players need to come together and figure out who they work well with in practice and suggest using said line.

There are some bright spots, While we are tied with Maine on faceoffs lost, we are second in faceoffs won, also behind Maine. The Lakers have 620 FW with Maine taking 637. At this point last year, the Lakers were ranked 44th in shots blocked, with 168. This year, we are sitting in 27th with 193.

But this is the last weekend of play for the half, not counting the Catamount Cup just after Christmas. The Lakers are sitting alone in 7th place, just ahead of Ferris State and Alaska Anchorage by a single point, and trailing Northern Michigan by 7. Depending on how well the Lakers, Bulldogs and Chargers play this weekend (UAH is in last with 5 points, but play Ferris this weekend. UAA are off), we could, possibly, be even more on the bubble of missing playoffs. I believe we currently have the tiebreaker on Ferris, but I am not sure about UAA.

Puck drops at 7:00pm both Friday and Saturday nights here in Sault Sainte Marie. Listen to the game locally by tuning your dial to 99.5, or listen through TuneIn or other streaming methods. If you want to view the game, FloHockey is where you need to go if you cannot make it to the arena.

Lakers nicked by Maverick buzz saw

Lake Superior State faced the wrong opponent for a team looking to right the ship on its season.

Minnesota State, the top team in the major college hockey polls, and largely seen as the team to beat in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) showed exactly why they were so ranked with a series sweep over the Lakers with 5-1 and 2-0 wins at home.

Both Friday and Saturday night saw the Mavericks (14-1-1, 9-1-0 WCHA) outshoot Lake Superior (5-14-1, 3-8-1 WCHA) in the first period, yet be held scoreless thanks to the play of goaltender Mareks Mitens.  The Lakers were outshot by nearly identical 11-7 and 12-7 margins in both opening periods on the weekend.

Although they held the hosts off the board in the first, the Mavericks broke thru in the second on both night.  On Friday, Minnesota State took advantage of Laker penalties, as Dallas Gerards and Parker Toomie each netted goals with the extra man.  Pete Veillette got the Lakers on the board late in the second, but that was all the offense the Lakers mustered all weekend.  Three more goals in the third for Minnesota State (one more on the power play) sealed the deal.

Saturday night, Lake Superior shut down the Minnesota State, yet surrendered a goal on special teams regardless, with a shorthanded goal in the second period.  A goal late in the third capped off the scoring for the Mavericks.

The end result could have been worse for the Lakers, as they benefited from 5 shots Minnesota State rang off the pipes on the weekend.

With the win, Minnesota State extended their winning streak to 9 games, not having lost since falling to Bowling Green in overtime on November 1st.  Lake Superior, meanwhile, fell to 1-8-1 in their last 10.

Lake Superior returns home this weekend for the final home series of 2019.  They face Bowling Green this Friday and Saturday.  Game time is 7 p.m. both nights.

Happy Thanksgiving, and This Weekend’s Series

Howdy everyone. First, I’d like to wish all of our American readers a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you all had you fill of turkey, ham, or whatever you were able to get in your gullet.

Because this week was a busy one, and also since we literally just played Bemidji a few weeks ago, not much has really changed for the Lakers or Beavers, so there will be no normal series preview for this week. I’m also now realizing I never did a preview for the last series, ha. I do apologize for the spotty schedule, but things have been a bit hectic around here lately. Hopefully they settle down enough to get back to normal soon.

If you really want a preview, here it goes:

Lakers good. Beavers Bad. Beavers beat Lakers bad last meeting. Lakers need to get them back. Listen in on 99.5 either locally or online, or on Flohockey.tv, or bring the family with this weekend’s Black Friday special from Laker Hockey – Get up to 6 tickets for only $18!

Puck drops Friday at 7:00pm, and Saturday at 5:00pm.

Lakers salvage split with Bowling Green, end five game skid

Alex Ambrosio scored the game winner on Saturday night after taking a game misconduct the previous night. Ambrosio’s goal helped the Lakers snap a five game losing streak (Mike Barrett/LHB).

After a rough Friday night that saw Lake Superior State outshot 32-18 by No. 17 Bowling Green State in a 5-0 loss, the Lakers rebounded with a strong physical effort for a 3-1 win at the Slater Family Ice Arena.

This series saw a bit of everything: tons of special teams play, a shutout, a penalty shot and a broken pane of glass to boot.

It also saw Lake Superior earn its first road win of the season, snapping a five game skid in the process.

Friday saw Bowling Green (8-5-0, 5-3-0 WCHA) open up a 2-0 lead with tallies from Max Johnson and Sam Craggs, despite the Lakers (5-11-0, 3-5-0 WCHA) holding a slim 10-9 advantage in shots.  A barrage of shots by the Falcons resulted in another goal in the second period, this time from Cameron Wright.

Despite killing a major penalty taken by Alex Ambrosio, Lake Superior could not contain the Falcons, as a hooking penalty by Max Humitz led to a penalty shot for Bowling Green, in which Connor Ford scored on Lakers goaltender Mareks Mitens, making the score 4-0.  A final tally, this time on the power play from Evan Dougherty, gave the host Falcons a 5-0 lead.  Coupled with Bowling Green netminder Eric Dop stopping all 18 shots he faced, the score held up as the final.

Saturday night saw Lake Superior come out playing hard and heavy, frustrating the Bowling Green team at every turn.  An oddity occurred with 51 seconds remaining in the period when a Falcon player inadvertently shattered a pane of glass.  With the incident occurring so late in the period, the teams were sent to the locker room for the first intermission early.  The final seconds of the first period were played after the intermission, after which the two teams switched ends to play the second period.

The grit demonstrated by the Lakers led to them scoring the first goal of the game, as Pete Veillette capitalized on a power play opportunity, while the Falcon’s Tyler Schneider was off for slashing.  Connor Ford earned his second goal of the weekend 1:16 later, sending the teams to the locker rooms tied after 40 minutes of play.

At 4:17 of the final period, Ambrosio potted his third goal of the season, putting the Lakers ahead 2-1.  A tense period followed, as Bowling Green had a golden opportunity to tie the game when Laker captain Collin Saccoman was ejected and charged with a 5 minute major for contact to the head.  The physical play of Lake Superior continued to punish the Falcons, and an empty netter from Humitz sealed the 3-1 win for the visitors and a series split.

For Humitz, it was his 50th career collegiate goal.

Both teams had their share of special teams play, as the Lakers went 0 for 8 on Friday and 1 for 5 on Saturday, while Bowling Green was 2 for 7 on Friday and 1 for 6 on Saturday.  Lake Superior racked up 62 penalty minutes, while the Falcons had 44 of their own.

Despite being outshot on the weekend, Lake Superior won the battle in the faceoff circle, going 38-32 on Friday and 39-37 the following night.

Lake Superior returns home this weekend to face Bemidji State.  The teams met earlier this month, with the Beavers sweeping the Lakers by scores of 7-1 and 5-1.

 

Series Preview: Lake Superior State @ #17 Bowling Green

Bowling Green: 7-4-0 overall

Lake Superior State: 4-10-0

A New Falconer Forces Progress

One big changeup in college hockey this past summer was that there was going to be a change behind the bench for the Falcons. 9-Year bench boss for BG, Chris Bergeron, after a spot opened up in his Alma Mater of Miami (Ohio).  Bergeron was the first coach since Jerry York, whose tenure ran between 1979-1994, to post a positive win percentage for the team.

Now leading the club is Ty Eigner, a 1993 graduate of Bowling Green. He is off to a good start too, posting a 7-4-0 record thus far. The wins come curtasey of Miami (Ohio), a sweep of Western in a home-and-home series (after a loss to them at the Icebreaker), the split with Michigan Tech, a split in an overtime win with Minnesota State-Mankato before finally sweeping Alaska Anchorage.

Bowling Green is led in scoring by senior defenseman Alec Rauhauser who has 12 points, Connor Ford, a junior forward has 11 points and Alex Barber, a sophomore forward follows up with 10 total points. Cameron Wright, a junior forward leads the team with 8 goals. Eric Dop is the go-to goalie this year, playing in 10 of their 11 games. He has a 7-3-0 record, a 2.19 GAA and a .914 Save%.

Lakers Not Weathering Early Storms

Whew this season has been rough. At this point last season, the Lakers were flying high at 6-3-1 record (6-4 if you count the tie as a loss, as it was in 3v3 OT). They started the season winning 7 straight, between 2 on-conference series, an exhibition weekend, and a weekend of WCHA play. It seemed the team morale was high, fans were having fun (and would continue to do so, winning another 8 straight after dropping three in a row).

This campaign isn’t as much fun. While we have played against two ranked opponents so far this season, keeping it closer than the score says with then #2 Denver, then a few weeks later at #5 Notre Dame, they were swept by a really bad Michigan team, having won only 3 games this season (the other win coming from a pounding of Western), they have yet to win a conference game and sit at the bottom of the B1G. And save for Saturday night’s game against cross UP rivals Michigan Tech, they have been mostly blown out.

The defense corp needs to figure itself out. There was only one loss in that department after last season, Steven Ruggerio. Ruggerio, as a refresher, was second in the nation with the number of penalties taken  (36), and only scored 11 points on the year, and blocking 57 shots (second to Colin Saccoman). Saccoman already has 9 points on the season. Only two defensemen ended their year with a worse +/-. Anderson and Semandel, but they only played 29 and 17 games respectively, whereas Ruggerio played in all but one. This isn’t trying to say that Steven wasn’t a good player, he was, but losing just guy shouldn’t make the blue line this porous. The goaltending could step it up too, but when the play in front of him is subpar, there’s only so much one man can do.

A split or sweep this weekend would do wonders for this team and it’s fans. Bowling Green is a long time rival of the Lakers, going all the way back to the CCHA days. And save for the playoff series that we don’t talk about, the Lakers always seem to step up their game against the Falcons.

Max Humitz notched another point last week, bringing his career point total to 88.

Puck drops at 7:00pm both Friday and Saturday nights in Bowling Green. Listen to the game locally by tuning your dial to 99.5, or listen through TuneIn or other streaming methods.If you want to view the game, FloHockey is where you need to go. Get every in conference game for one price.

Series Preview: Michigan Tech Huskies at Lake Superior State

Michigan Tech: 3-6-0

Lake Superior State: 4-8-0

Slow Start for the Huskies

The almighty Michigan Tech Huskies, who have been near the top of the standings year in and out are off to a bit of a slow start this season. After sweeping OOC opponents Robert Morris at RMU, the dogs have only won one game in the last 7 games, and that was against the then #17 Bowling Green. All the losses have been within 3 points (most of them 1 or 2).

Led behind the bench by former Laker Joe Shawhan, who is in his third season, and are captained by Raymond Brice, with Alex Smith and Seamus Donohue serving as alternates. Interesting enough, Brice has played in only 5 games for the Huskies, with 0 goals and 0 assists, but with 1 penalty.

In terms of scoring, the boys in Blue and Yellow are led by sophomore forward Alex Broetzman, who leads the team with 7 points. Following behind him is Parker Saretsky, a freshman who has 6 points, then Colin Swoyer, a sophomore defenseman with 5 points, all of them assists.

There seems to be a bit of a battle in net, with Tech playing three different ones. Senior Mat Jurusik leads with 5 games played, a 2-3-0 record, with a GAA of 2.04 and a .926 Save%. Robbie Beydoun, a junior, has appeared in 4 games, a 1-2-0 record, a 2.16 GAA and a .915 Save%. Finally, Freshman Blake Pietila has shown up in 2 games, a 0-1-0 record, GAA of 1.54 and a Save% of .923.

Choppy Seas Hinder Lakers

Some of us were wondering if maybe last years success was a fluke. Coming out of the gate a sweeping Merrimack, then playing two very close games to losses against the then #2 Denver Pioneers helped quite that crowd down a bit, since while we started the year 2-2-0, those two Denver losses were closer than the score appears to be. However, four straight losses against B1G teams brought morale down. Even the sweep of Ferris State has been hindered by the slaughtering the Lakers took against Bemidji State last weekend, being outscored 12-2.

The blue line has proved to be a bit porous, and the goaltending has been very hot and cold. Combine all this with bad turnovers and you have yourself a bad time.  Maybe it’s time to see what freshman goaltender Seth Eisele has to offer in net.

The Humitz Road-To-100-Points total is currently sitting at 87 total career points.

Puck drops at 7:00pm both Friday and Saturday nights. Listen to the game locally by tuning your dial to 99.5, or listen through TuneIn or other streaming methods. If you want to watch, but are away from town, FloHockey has all in-conference WCHA games for a nominal fee.

Beavers pound Lakers on road

Alex Ambrosio (seen here against Denver) had one of the two Laker goals in Bemidji this weekend, as Lake Superior fell by scores of 7-1 and 5-1 (Mike Barrett/LHB)

A rough weekend in Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) play has Lake Superior State searching for their first road win of the 2019-20 season.

Quite a departure from their road mark of last season.

On the road to Bemidji State, the Beavers took no prisoners Friday night with a 7-1 drubbing of the Lakers.  The following night saw much of the same, albeit with a more forgiving 5-1 final score.

Max Humitz’ 6th goal of the season, which came midway thru the 3rd period on Friday, kept Zach Driscoll from shutting the Lakers out completely.  Alex Ambrosio had Lake Superior’s lone tally on Saturday, his 2nd of the year.

Mareks Mitens started Friday night, but was chased after two periods and five goals.  Roman Bengert allowed two in relief during the final period.  Lake Superior was outshot 41-27 in a game that only had two penalties all night — one to Bemidji State’s Tyler Kirkup and one to Lake Superior’s Alec Semandel.

Saturday night saw Bengert getting the start from head coach Damon Whitten.  A 3 goal 2nd period for the Beavers led to, in an odd reversal of fortune from the previous night, Bengert being pulled for Mitens.  Shots were 26-19 in favour of Bemidji State at the end of the night.

One statistical category that the Lakers had going for them was faceoffs.  Lake Superior was 35-32 in the circle on Friday, and went 39-22 on Saturday.

This coming weekend will see the Lakers hosting Michigan Tech.  Game time on Friday and Saturday is at 7 p.m. EST.