Month: December 2017

Lakers take 3rd place in Three Rivers Classic with 4-1 win over Sun Devils

Ian Johnston (seen here against the USNTDP) scored his first goal as a Laker, as LSSU defeated Arizona State to claim 3rd place in the Three Rivers Classic (Mike Barrett/LHB)

PITTSBURGH – After not being in the lineup Friday against Robert Morris, Ian Johnston was inserted onto the fourth line to try and generate some offense.

The sophomore from Ottawa made himself be heard with his first goal in a Laker uniform as Lake Superior (5-13-4, 3-8-3 WCHA) claimed a 4-1 win over Arizona State (4-12-4, 0-0-0 Independent) in the consolation game at the Three Rivers Classic.

Lake Superior ended their scoreless drought early in the first period as J.T. Henke continued his phenomenal senior campaign.  Henke was muscled off of the puck by the Sun Devils; Arizona State failed to play the puck however and the Trenton, Michigan native collected it and put it behind Ryland Pashovitz.

Just over 2:30 later, Arizona State tied it up with Tyler Busch’s seventh goal of the season.  Despite generating 16 shots on Nick Kossoff in the first period alone, the junior netminder turned aside the rest of the attempts.

The Lakers reclaimed their one goal lead Brayden Gelsinger slipped the puck through the five hole of Pashovitz.  Gelsinger’s 5th goal of the season sent Lake Superior back to the locker room after one period with the lead.

In the second period the Sun Devils, who generally have a difficult time getting shots on net, badly outshot Lake Superior 19 to 4.  Consecutive penalties to Gage Torrel, Ryan Renz and Max Humitz in the first half of the period kept the Lakers on the defensive.

The Lakers did not get their first shot on net until under 4:00 remaining.  Despite the multitude of shots, Kossoff was not terribly tested, as most shots were from long range with little traffic. 

Early in the third period, Kyle Chatham made a clean centering pass from along the right boards directly to the stick of Johnston.  The forward then lifted the puck over the left leg of goaltender Pashovitz, earning career goal number one.

Down but not out, Arizona State continued peppering Kossoff, but failed to capitalize.  The Lake State penalty kill performed well, limiting the Sun Devil chances, particularly on a 5 on 3 chance midway through the third.

The Lakers salted the game away with an empty netter courtesy of Humitz, who carried the puck through the neutral zone and got the shot off from the blue line, as Lake Superior earned the 4-1 win.

Thirteen different Lakers registered at least one blocked shot, with Collin Saccoman (6), Steven Ruggiero (4) and Kyle Chatham (3) leading the way.

Kossoff finished the night with 48 saves.  In the other net, Pashovitz stopped 17 of 20.

In the championship game, 11th ranked Providence prevailed over Robert Morris to win the Three Rivers Classic.   Kasper Björkqvist’s power play goal late in the second proved to be the difference, as the Friars (12-7-1, 6-4-1 Hockey East) prevented the Colonials (8-12-1, 7-7-1 Atlantic Hockey) from claiming a third straight title.

Lake Superior will return home next weekend to face Bemidji State.  The Beavers (9-6-5, 6-4-4-2 WCHA) swept their home series against Alabama-Huntsville (6-14-2, 5-9-2-1 WCHA).  

LSSU stymied by Robert Morris in 5-0 shutout

PITTSBURGH – Looking to take steps forward going into the second half of the season, the Lake Superior State Lakers found themselves stymied by the Robert Morris Colonials in a 5-0 loss in the Three Rivers Classic.

Lake Superior (4-13-4, 3-8-3 WCHA) could not get its offense going, as the team suffered its third shutout in four games.

Played at the home of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, the Classic will see tourney host Robert Morris playing for the championship for the 5th time in 6 years.

Timmy Moore and Brady Ferguson were the major sources of the Lakers’ ailments in the opening period, as each had a goal and two assists as the Colonials (8-11-1, 7-7-1 Atlantic Hockey) took a 3-0 lead to the dressing room after one period of play.

Lake Superior was outshot badly in the first period and completely outworked by the Colonials, as Robert Morris scored one fewer goal than the Lakers had shots.

With Nick Kossoff relieving Mareks Mitens in net to start the second period, the Lakers looked to dig out of the hole they were in.  Alas, the hole only grew deeper, with Nick Jenny and Luke Lynch converting for Robert Morris to make the score 5-0.

While the shots in the final period were nearly even (10-9 in favour of RMU), Lake Superior could not get the puck past Francis Marotte, as the sophomore earned his third shutout of the season.  Francis needed 19 saves to get there.

On special teams, the Colonials were 1 for 9 with the man advantage while Lake Superior went 0 for 4.  The Lakers took 14 minutes worth of penalties, meaning some of the nine power plays Robert Morris had were only partial ones.

In relief of Mitens, who made 14 saves on 17 shots, Kossoff tallied 19 on 21. 

The Lakers will look to get back on track in their second game of the Classic, where they will face Arizona State.  The Sun Devils (4-11-4, 0-0-0 Independent) suffered a similar fate in their opening game, as they were blanked 6-0 by 11th ranked Providence.  Puck drop is at 4:05 p.m.

Preview – Lakers at Three Rivers Classic

PITTSBURGH – Lake Superior State will participate in its third holiday tournament in four years under head coach Damon Whitten as they take on the Colonials of Robert Morris tonight at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. 

In each of the last two holiday tourneys, the Lakers have played the host in their first game, as they played Cornell in the 2014 Florida College Hockey Classic and Vermont in the 2015 Catamount Cup.  This year is no different, as the Colonials are the host team of the Three Rivers Classic.

About the Colonials

Robert Morris (7-11-1, 7-7-1 Atlantic Hockey) has won the tourney three times since the Classic was established in 2012.  They claimed the inaugural title and have won the last two.

The Colonials have been led by seniors Brady Ferguson (10-13-23) and Michael Louria (9-13-22).  Luke Lynch, a sophomore, has put up 11 goals on the year thus far.  While the team has not had any success in non-conference play, these forwards have not exactly been held in check by their opponents, as each has had at least 3 points against non-conference foes.

On the blueline, Robert Morris does not have much in the way of scoring defense, as Eric Israel (2-9-11) is the only one in double digit points.  

Between the pipes, sophomore Francis Marotte has seen the bulk of the action, as he comes into the tournament 7-7-1 overall, with a 2.87 goals against and a .909 save percentage.  Senior Andrew Pikul has played in four games, sporting a 0-4-0 record, a .881 SV% and a rather husky 4.48 GAA.

Robert Morris comes into the game after the same layoff most college hockey teams have had.  In their last series, the Colonials swept a home-and-home with Mercyhurst, which snapped a four game skid.

The winner of this game will face the winner of the Providence/Arizona State game, which is the early game.  The loser will take on the loser of the first game in the early contest Saturday, while the winners from day one will compete in the nightcap Saturday for the Classic championship.

About the Friars

Providence (10-7-1, 6-4-1 Hockey East) comes in ranked 9th in the country in the USCHO Poll.  The Friars have been ranked in the poll each week since the season began – an impressive feat, especially when considering that Providence has not won more than two games in a row all year and hasn’t even done that since beating UMass and Merrimack on November 11 & 17.

Leading the way for the Friars is Eric Foley (10-11-21), Brian Pinho (6-7-13) and John Wilkins (5-8-13).  In net, Hayden Hawkey (10-7-0, 2.61 GAA, .906 SV%) has seen the majority of the minutes.

The Friars have reportedly seen some roster changes at midseason, as two players have departed, while another has joined.  Jake Ryczek, a defenseman (and Chicago Blackhawks draft pick) and Chase Zieky, a forward, have both departed the program.  Ryczek has moved on to major junior, while Zieky’s fate is unknown.  Meanwhile, Davis Bunz (Central Illinois – USHL) comes in.  It is unclear if he will join the team for the Classic.

About the Sun Devils

Arizona State (4-10-3) has shown improvement over the past few seasons since joining the ranks of DI hockey.  They have played many opponents close this year, including a 4-4 tie of Colorado College in their most recent outing.  The Sun Devils had close losses to a 19th ranked Air Force in October and a split against Alabama-Huntsville (the only WCHA foe faced so far.)

Leading the Sun Devils are Brett Gruber (4-9-13), Tyler Busch (6-5-11) and Brinson Pasichnuk (3-6-9).  Getting the call in goal most nights is Joey Daccord (4-9-4, 3.26 GAA, .911 SV%).

Following the Three Rivers Classic, Arizona State will play host to their own tournament, which will be held in Las Vegas on January 5-6.  The Sun Devils will face Northern Michigan in the first game and either Boston College or Michigan Tech in the second game.

No current WCHA team has played in the championship game.  Last season, Ferris State lost 1-0 to the Colonials before falling to Boston College 2-1 in the consolation game.  In the 2013 installment, Bowling Green fell 5-0 to Boston College, but rallied to defeat Robert Morris 3-2 the next day.

Rumor: Nenadal Out at Lake State

 

Rumors are starting to circulate within the Laker community that Junior forward Josh Nenadal (2017: 20GP, 2-2-4) is no longer with the team. 

While I have heard of the possible reason why, but unless I can confirm it, I do not feel comfortable possibly tarnishing a player’s name of reputation.  

We simply lost on what we know, or on items we can substantiate or. Confirm to a reasonable degree.  LakerHockeyBlog isn’t in the yellow journalism business. 

Lakers tie Michigan Tech, fall in shootout

Brendan McKay, seen here against Minnesota State, scored his first collegiate goal in a 3-3 tie against Michigan Tech (Mike Barrett/LHB)

HOUGHTON – Despite playing well and even holding a two goal lead, the Lake Superior State Lakers were unable to end their winless streak against the Michigan Tech Huskies, as the teams skated to a 3-3 tie.

The last time Lake Superior defeated Michigan Tech was January, 2014.  They have gone 0-10-3 since, plus 2 losses in the WCHA tournament.

Lake Superior (4-12-4, 3-8-3 WCHA) opened the scoring from an unlikely source, as Brendan McKay earned his first collegiate goal.  The redshirt sophomore from Toronto beat Huskies netminder Robert Beydoun, ending the scoring drought for the Lakers.

Prior to the goal by McKay, the Lakers had not scored since Hampus Erikkson potted the only goal in their series against Minnesota State last weekend – eight periods plus change.

Despite the Huskies (9-7-5, 7-6-5-2 WCHA) outshooting the Lakers 12-6 in the first period, Lake Superior took a lead back to the locker room after 20 minutes.

Midway through the second period, J.T. Henke added to the lead with a goal directly off the faceoff.  Henke (6-15-21) entered the game in a tie for 26th in the nation in scoring.  His 16 points in conference play have him among the scoring leaders in the WCHA.

Dylan Steman helped get his club back into the game 1:35 later as his second goal of the year cut the Lakers’ lead in half.

Lake Superior appeared to get themselves into big trouble when Gage Torrel was called for contact to the head late in the second period.  Torrel received a five minute major plus a game misconduct.

Just over a minute into the penalty kill, Tech’s Jake Jackson was sent to the box for interference, helping negate some of the penalty time.  Unfortunately for Lake State, Dane Birks knotted the score at 2 goals apiece.

The Huskies took the lead with just over four minutes to play with a goal from Brent Baltus.  Making matters worse for Lake Superior was a tripping penalty issued to Mareks Mitens, making the chances for a Laker comeback less likely.

Despite the odds, the Lakers continued to press.  With an extra skater on the ice, Anthony Nellis cashed in for his seventh goal of the season with just 42 seconds remaining in regulation.

Just like they did in their series back in October, neither team could end the game in the 5 on 5 or 3 on 3 sessions, sending the game to a shootout.

In the shootout, Lukas Kaelble and Henke had chances to win, as the Huskies missed on their opportunities.  Unfortunately, they did the same.

In the third round, Jackson beat Mitens with the puck and, coupled with Nellis failing to convert at the other end, enabled the Huskies to pick up 2 points on the night.

Following the game, head coach Damon Whitten praised his team for holding things together in spite of the adversity the team played through, including the injuries the team has faced through the season.  During the third period, Hampus Erikkson was forced to leave the game due to injury.

In net, Mitens made 33 stops, while Beydoun came up with 22.  Saves that are made in 3 on 3 overtime and shootouts are not counted towards official statistics.

The Lakers are off until the Three Rivers Classic on December 29-30th.  In the first game, they will take on Robert Morris.  The Colonials (6-11-1, 6-7-1 Atlantic Hockey) are the tournament host.  The winner of that game will play the winner of Providence (10-7-1, 6-4-1 Hockey East) and independent Arizona State (4-10-3), while the loser will face the loser of that game.

Offense sputters against Huskies in 3-0 loss

HOUGHTON – Offensive woes continued for Lake Superior, as they suffered their second consecutive shutout in a 3-0 loss to the Michigan Tech Huskies.

Lake Superior (4-12-3, 3-8-2 WCHA) found themselves behind the eight ball early, as a power play goal by the Huskies (9-7-4, 7-6-4-1 WCHA) netted a power play goal courtesy of Brent Baltus just 2:56 into the game.

The Lakers settled things down after the goal by Baltus, as they played their defensive game well, frustrating the Tech offense with a good forecheck. 

Despite being outshot 19-4 in the second period, the Lakers kept Michigan Tech off of the scoresheet by playing well defensively.  While the shot differential was lopsided, the Huskies accumulated 16 blocked shots throughout the game, many of which came in the second period.

Two third period goals within four minutes of each other sealed the fate for Lake Superior, as the strong play of Mareks Mitens in net was not enough to keep the Lakers in the game.

Making his first start in a Laker uniform was sophomore defenseman Steven Ruggiero.  Ruggiero, a native of King’s Park, New York, transferred to Lake Superior following a half season at Providence.  He was a 6th round (178th overall) draft pick of the Anaheim Ducks in 2015.

Also of note concerning the lineup was the absence of Laker captain Aidan Wright.  The senior defenseman from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, sat out for the first time in his college career.  Wright had played 133 consecutive games before tonight.

Mitens made 37 saves on 40 opportunites, while his counterpart Robert Beydoun picked up the shutout with 25 saves.

The teams will meet again tonight at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena in Houghton.  Puck drop is at 7:07 p.m.    

News: Ruggerio Cleared by NCAA

The NCAA has officially cleared Sophomore transfer defenseman Steven Ruggerio to play this weekend against the Michigan Tech Huskies. 

The bad news of is that the team bus left Sault Saints Marie before this news broke. But I would expect to see him in the lineup this weekend, one way or another.

Lake Superior State at Michigan Tech – Series Preview

 

Michigan Tech: 2016: 23-15-7. 2017: 8-7-4

Lake Superior State: 2016: 11-18-7. 2017: 4-11-3

 

 

Huskies Mushing To Home Ice

The last time these two teams met, Tech was ranked #15 in the nation, and effectively swept the Lakers on their own ice during Great Lake State Weekend. The Huskies won Friday night, and the Lakers took them to the end of Overtime, but lost the extra conference point in a shootout.

Since that Saturday night, the Huskies have won four games cleanly, and one in OT, forcing a tie in three conference games, but losing in the shootout. They’ve lost six games, nine counting the shootout losses, all to conference opponents. Despite this, however, they have enough points to be third in the conference, behind Bowling Green and Minnesota State.

Last weekend Tech split with the dark horse Ferris State who have won four of their last six. They will be hoping to be above .500 conference by the end of the weekend.

 

“We have struck in iceberg and sinking by the head,”

The above quote comes from the ill-fated RMS Titanic. It was a message that was broadcast to a German ship named the Frankfurt (http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-17631595). I believe this is a fitting quote for how this season has gone down in this first half of the season.

The Lakers may have struck the biggest iceberg of all this past weekend, getting beaten handily by Minnesota State, losing 5-1 Friday and 7-0 Saturday. The lone goal came from a soft tap in from the neutral zone by freshman Erikkson. The weekend was mired by horrible officiating, and quite frankly horrible play on the ice.

The team, in recent weeks, have felt much like the movie adaption of the Titanic sinking – people jumping ship and others giving up. Kudos to those players that go out and try their hardest despite linemates not keeping up their level of play.

This weekend looks to be a litmus test for the rest of the season. The play last week was embarrassing to watch, and I couldn’t even imagine what it was like to be on the ice for either game. If the passengers on the team felt embarrassed by their play & the score from last weekend, it should show this week in Houghton, and we should see a hard skating team for all 120+ minutes Friday & Saturday night.

The keys to winning any points this weekend sounds simple, but has proven to be difficult: If you are suiting up to play, play your hardest.

If you are in the area, the game can be seen on the campus of Michigan Tech at the John McInnis Student Ice Arena, or you can listen to the Voice of the Lakers Bill Crawford locally on 99.5 YesFM. If the audio stream is working, the game can also be heard online at www.yesfm.net. Puck drops at 7:07pm both nights.

Lakers stomped by Mavericks in series finale

Editor’s note – our apologies for the delay in posting this recap.  

SAULT STE. MARIE – Looking to capture the magic they had found last Saturday against Alaska, the Lake Superior State Lakers were dealt a harsh dose of reality, as they dropped the series finale against the Minnesota State Mavericks 7-0 at the Taffy Abel Arena.

Mankato, the 8th ranked team in the country, came out with the foot on the gas pedal, as they controlled nearly every facet of the game.

“Discipline hurt us.  You’ve got to be more disciplined against a team like that,” said Lakers head coach Damon Whitten.  “They’re a really good team, give them a lot of credit.  There’s a reason they’re ranked where they’re at.  They are skilled, deep and fast.  Obviously they were the better team tonight.  Special teams killed us again tonight, which were a big difference on the weekend.”

Many questionable penalties were called against both teams throughout the game – a fact Whitten was particularly unhappy with.

Minnesota State was 4 for 7 with the man advantage, including one goal on a major penalty to Max Humitz, who was tossed for spearing.

Nick Kossoff was relieved after yielding five goals in two periods.  Mareks Mitens, his replacement, allowed two more in the third period.

For the Mavericks, Connor LaCouvee picked up the shutout with a mere 13 saves – 8 of which came in the first period.

For those who are not mathematically inclined, Lake Superior took 5 shots on net in the final two periods – the same number of goals scored over that stretch by Minnesota State.

Lake Superior will look to regroup this weekend in Houghton against Michigan Tech.  The Lakers and Huskies faced off back in October, with Michigan Tech taking 5 of 6 points.  Joe Shawhan’s squad is coming off of a split against Ferris State.