Alaska Anchorage – 2016: 7-21-6 2017: 0-5-1
Lake Superior State: 2016: 11-18-7 2017: 1-5-2
There are two things each of these two teams have in common this season: their record and starting goalie. Alaska Anchorage has started senior Olivier Mantha in all six of their games this season where he has faced 216 shots in 356:05 minutes in net, which is good for #13 in the country for shots faced (Nick Kossoff of the Lakers sits at #15, with 211 shots faced in 321:43 minutes in net). Despite the scores and records, Mantha is having a pretty good year with such a tough schedule. They opened up at home against NCHC powerhouse North Dakota, forcing a 1-1 tie. The Sea Wolves lost in overtime the next night 3-2, allowing 4 goals in 78 shots. The next weekend they travelled to Colorado College to take on the Tigers. They lost 6-1 and 3-2 on the weekend, that Saturday night score is impressive, considering that the Tigers are now 5-2 on the season, splitting games with some really good teams. If Mantha was backstopping a more competitive team in the conference, like a Michigan Tech or Mankato (I would say Bemidji, but trying to decide between Bitzer and Mantha would be an impossible decision), I think that the WCHA could bring home a national championship.
But the rest of the team is another story. They have not allowed as many goals or shots on goal, but as a team they are sitting with the lowest Corsi For % in even strength & “close” , and for the overall totals. Lake State does sit right above them, however.
(Lake) Superior State of Sorrow
This season has not lived up to our expectations. They have been outshot 195 to 70 in the last two weekends, with two periods (one each weekend) only having a single shot on net. There seems to be a few injuries on the blue line, but that doesn’t really excuse the excessive shots on net.
The Lakers lead the nation on shots on goal against, with 332 (UAA had 219). This is dead last in the nation, ahead of Arizona State by 45 SOG. In contrast they only shot the puck on net 166 times (UAA has 150). In case you didn’t notice it, that is 2:1 SOGA:SOGF.
We’ve talked about it as a group here at Laker Hockey Blog but despite it only being the 9th and 10th game of the year for the Lakers, and 7th & 8th games of the year for UAA, it feels like a must win series for both teams if they want to 1) make the playoffs and 2) build momentum to turn their seasons around since the rest of the season will not get any easier for both teams.
I think it’s pretty obvious what the key to success is this weekend for the Lakers: Get shots on net and limit shot attempts from the Sea Wolves. Basic hockey. This is the time for fundamentals, not fancy drop passes, zone entries or clears.
Look for this game to be one of:
- High scoring
- High SOG
- A exercise in futility
No matter which team you will be rooting for this weekend, I think we may all agree that copious amounts of alcohol will be required to get through it.
This slugfest can be seen locally at the Taffy Abel Arena, with both Friday and Saturday night games starting at 7:07pm. They can be heard locally on 99.5 YesFM, online at www.yesfm.net, or on the TuneIn app. For those fans not in the area, or cannot make it to the arena but still want to watch the action, both games will be available on www.WCHA.tv.