SAULT STE. MARIE – Three goals in just 42 seconds put the Lake Superior State hockey team behind the eight ball midway thru the first period, as the Alaska Nanooks, fueled by a hat trick from Troy Van Tetering, held off a potential Laker rally en route to a 5-3 win on Friday night at the Taffy Abel Arena.
Despite dominating play during much of the opening period, it was the Nanooks (5-10-2, 3-7-1-1 WCHA) who drew first blood, as Justin Woods beat Mareks Mitens seconds after Alaska rang one off the post.
Just twelve seconds later, Colton Leiter made the score 2-0 Alaska with a long shot that squeezed past Mitens on the short side. Van Tetering kept the momentum going for the Nanooks with another goal, putting the Lakers behind 3-0.
“I thought it was a good start. The first ten minutes we really came at them, but they weathered the storm, and when it comes down to it, 42 seconds costs you the hockey game,” said Lakers head coach Damon Whitten. “It’s unacceptable to give up that many goals in such a short time. It’s not good enough and we need to be better.”
Although Lake Superior (3-9-3, 2-5-2 WCHA) got a goal back at 15:42 courtesy of Gage Torrel, the Nanooks returned to the dressing room up three, as Van Tetering earned his second goal of the night with under a minute left in the first period.
At 9:36 of the second period, Van Tetering had his hat trick, as he slid the puck beyond the outstretched arm of Nick Kossoff, who relieved Mitens after one period.
Lake Superior started to rally late in the second. Max Humitz earned his 8th goal of the season with an unassisted goal in form of a wrist shot over the shoulder of Nanooks goaltender Anton Martinsson. Humitz’ goal made it 5-2 Nanooks going into the third period.
“We’ve got good character and good players,” said Whitten. “It’s one of those game where pucks end up in the back of your net too easily. We kept playing though, and I like that about our team. Even so, it’s hard to play from behind and chase. You don’t win many hockey games 6-5 or 7-6.”
Senior forward J.T. Henke got the Lakers within two, as his fourth of the season cut the Nanooks’ lead to 5-3. Despite continued offensive pressure, however, Lake Superior was unable to find the back of the net again, falling by a 5-3 final.
Both teams had a power play goal, as Lake Superior was 1 for 6 on the power play, while the Nanooks were 1 for 4 with the man advantage.
Martinsson stopped 20 of 23 shots. For the Lakers, Kossoff made 12 saves on 13 shots in relief of Mitens, who was victimized for 4 goals on 9 shots.
Both teams are back in action Saturday night at the Taffy Abel Arena.
“It’s all about mindset. You’ve got to come in and play heavier and harder than the guy across from you. We weren’t that tonight. I give [Alaska] a lot of credit, I thought they had more desperation and urgency to their game, so it’s not good enough from Lake State’s side. We’ve got to do a better job.”
Puck drop is set for 7:07 p.m.
Around the WCHA
Ferris State 2, Alaska-Anchorage 0
Justin Kapelmaster stopped all 22 shots he faced, while Jacob Hetz and Trevor Recktenwald each scored their first goal of the year for the Bulldogs. The Seawolves’ Olivier Mantha posted 46 saves on the night, but his team was unable to give him any goals in support. Both teams went 0 for 3 on the power play. Anchorage defenseman Nicholas Nolan registered 7 blocked shots for the Seawolves.
Northern Michigan 3, Alabama-Huntsville 1
Two shorthanded goals less than two minutes apart put the Wildcats ahead of the host Chargers at the Von Braun Center. Christian Rajic opened the scoring for Alabama-Huntsville, before Troy Loggins and Adam Rockwood cashed in with shorties late in the second period. Zach Diamantoni netted a power play goal in the third for the Wildcats. Mathias Israelsson faced just 16 shots, turning them all aside, save for the Rajic goal. Things got dicey in the third period, as four penalties were called for roughing after the whistle.
Bowling Green 3, Bemidji State 1
Niko Coffman could not have picked a better time to score his first goal of the season, as the sophomore defenseman from Chelsea, Michigan, netted the game winner for the Falcons with only 1:12 remaining in the game. Brandon Kruse and Mitch McLain also scored for Bowling Green (McLain on an empty net), while Mike Soucier picked up the lone goal for the Beavers. Both BSU’s Michael Bitzer and BGSU’s Erick Dop made 24 saves.