Lakers score four in third, earn 4-1 win and split with Alaska

Anthony Nellis crushes Nick Hinz of the Nanooks into the boards in the first period Saturday (Mike Barrett/LHB)

SAULT STE. MARIE – A very physical hockey game saw Lake Superior rally past Alaska with four third period goals, as they earned a weekend split with a 4-1 win on Saturday at the Taffy Abel Arena.

“I thought guys played. We didn’t have any passengers, guys showed up and played hard,” said Lakers head coach Damon Whitten.  “We had much better urgency and intensity, so I’m happy about that.

“To have a four goal third period is huge.  We haven’t been overly proficient offensively, so to get that first one and get rolling is huge.”

Both teams came out hitting hard and often.  The physical play did not escape notice of the referees, who issued 22 minutes worth of penalties in the first two periods.  The third period saw the whistles essentially put away, as the referees seemed content to allow the teams to play.

On the physicality, Whitten commented that “every team is different.  [Alaska] has that big heavy defensive corps that like to bang you around, and I think we responded well.  We had a heavy effort, we were good that way and it was good to be delivering those kinds of hits.”

Through the first half of the game the defenses stood tall, as neither team had much luck generating scoring chances.  Nanooks goalie Anton Martinsson weathered the early storm (with the help of two Laker shots clanging off the pipes), but unlike Friday night, the Lake Superior D corps gave Alaska few opportunities.

As the second period wore on, the Lakers started getting more offensive pressure as the game wore on, but Martinsson kept the Lakers out of the net thru two periods.

With about five minutes remaining in the second period, Alaska capitalized on a power play chance, as Ryker Leer broke the stalemate by taking the puck and putting it up and over Nick Kossoff (who was diving in an attempt to snare the puck) and into the goal.

Less than two minutes into the final period, the Lakers evened things up, as freshman defenseman Tyler Anderson earned his first collegiate goal.  Anderson picked up a loose puck while his team crashed the net and swatted the puck behind Martinsson on the stick side from the edge of the circle.

Just over six minutes later, with the Lakers on the power play, Henke got a loose puck and beat Martinsson, giving Lake Superior its first lead of the weekend in the process.  Henke’s shot came from almost the exact same spot as Anderson’s.

“He’s been very good offensively and consistent all season long,” remarked Whitten on Henke.    “Obviously he’s a major offensive catalyst for our team in that regard, and he brings it.  As good as he’s been though, I still think he can be better and be a dominant force in this league.”

Henke later added an assist on a goal by Anthony Nellis, as he passed the puck right through the skates of Alaska defenseman James LaDouce to Nellis, who deked and slipped the puck beneath the left leg of Martinsson.  With two points on the night, Henke (4-11-15) pulled ahead of Seuss for sole possession of first place in league scoring.

Lake Superior salted the game away with an empty netter from Diego Cuglietta to secure the 4-1 win for Lake Superior, helping them to earn a series split with the Nanooks.

“I thought we played well for five periods and that’s not good enough to win two games on the road,” said Nanooks head coach Lance West.  “Last night we won some battles, got to the net and scored, and tonight I don’t think we got to the net.

“We still had a 1-0 lead thru two periods, playing a very tight game.  Mental mistakes cost us in the third period, and they got some momentum out of them.”

Laker goaltender Kossoff faced just 20 shots, making 19 saves in the process to collect the win.  Martinsson, his counterpart, came up with 27 saves on 30 shots.

Around the league

Alabama-Huntsville 3, Northern Michigan 2

Josh Kestner scored two goals, including the game winner 1:48 into the second period, as the Chargers held on to beat the Wildcats, splitting the weekend series.  Northern Michigan held the lead twice in the first period, but Huntsville responded each time.  All five goals in the contest came within a 7:00 stretch of play.  In goal, Jordan Uhelski made 22 stops to collect the win, while Mathias Israelsson had 18 saves in defeat. 

Ferris State 5, Alaska-Anchorage 2

A three goal third period led the Bulldogs past the Seawolves, enabling them to sweep the weekend.  Alaska-Anchorage erased a two goal deficit in the second period with goals from Austin Azurdia and Corey Renwick.  Two goals by Taylor Fernandez plus one more from Craig Pelfey made the difference for Ferris State.  Pelfey finished with 2 goals and 2 assists on the night, as Justin Kapelmaster had 27 stops.  His Seawolf counterpart Olivier Mantha had 28 saves on 32 shots.

Bemidji State 3, Bowling Green 3 (Bemidji State wins shootout)

The Beavers trailed 2-1 going into the third period before goals by Dillon Eichstadt and Ian Janco put them in the lead.  Bowling Green’s Lukas Craggs then sent the game to overtime with an extra attacker goal with 54 seconds left on the clock.  Jay Dickman scored the only goal in the shootout to earn the Beavers 2 of 3 points in the league standings.  In goal, Michael Bitzer had 25 saves for the Beavers, while Ryan Bednard had 29 for the Falcons.  Bowling Green earned 4 of 6 points on the weekend.