Month: March 2019

Cuglietta signs amateur tryout with Texas Stars

Lake State celebrates a goal by Diego Cuglietta (centre) at the Great Lakes Invitational. Cuglietta signed an amateur tryout with the Texas Stars of the AHL.

The most recent 100 point scorer for Lake Superior State has signed a professional contract.

It was announced today that the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League (AHL) have signed senior Diego Cuglietta to an amateur tryout for the remainder of the 2018-19 season.

A native of Kamloops, British Columbia, Cuglietta recently completed his senior season with the Lakers, where he had 25 goals and 16 assists for 41 points.  His 25 goals are the most for a Laker in a single season since Sean Tallaire had 32 in 1995-96 and his season point total is the best for any Laker since Joe Blaznek had 46 in 1996-97.  In addition, his 100 career points are the most for a Laker since Dominic Monardo ended his collegiate career with 101 in 2012-13.

Beyond the point totals on the ice, the team co-captain was named Most Valuable Player at the Great Lakes Invitational this season and is also a nominee for the Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the top player in college hockey.  There have been six finalist from Lake Superior, but no winner as of yet.

The Texas Stars, located near Austin, are the main minor affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars.  Should Cuglietta make it to the NHL with the Stars, he would become the seventh Laker to do so, following Keith Aldridge, Paul Jerrard, Chris Dahlquist, John Flesch, Dan Keczmer and Rob Valicevic.  Jerrard, Dahlquist, Flesch and Keczmer played for the team while in Minnesota, while the rest were on the team while in its current home.

Cuglietta reaches century mark, but Lakers pushed to the brink

A quick start by Lake Superior State could not be sustained in the first game of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Semifinals, as the Lakers fell 2-1 to Minnesota State – Mankato on Friday night.

With the semifinals being a best of 3 affair, Lake Superior must win on Saturday to keep its season alive in their quest for the league tourney crown.

Lake Superior (23-12-2) got on the board first when senior captain Diego Cugletta got in the Maverick zone on a 2 on 1 and fired the puck over the left shoulder of Minnesota State netminder Dryden McKay. 

For Cuglietta, it was goal number 25 on the season and point number 100 in his collegiate career, as the forward from Kamloops, British Columbia, became the first Laker to reach the century mark since Dominic Monardo did so with a goal in a 3-0 win over Northern Michigan in 2013.

Two goals by the Mavericks (30-7-2) later that period quickly turned the Laker lead into a deficit.  Charlie Gerard scored his eleventh goal of the year on a breakaway that beat Laker goalie Nick Kossoff on the glove side at 6:18 of the first.   1:02 later, Walker Duehr made it 2-1 Mankato by collecting a pass from behind the net and firing it point-blank at the net, giving Kossoff little chance.

With the Mavericks styming the Lakers at nearly every turn, a comeback just wasn’t in the cards for the visitors.  The Lakers were 0 for 5 with the man advantage and had a remarkably difficult time setting anything up on their chances.  Even pulling Kossoff for an extra attacker proved difficult, as Lake Superior could not maintain zone possession long enough to get their netminder pulled.

Early in the third, Minnesota State briefly appeard to go up 3-1, as Gerard put the puck in the net while being taken down by Laker defenseman Steven Ruggiero.  A review disallowed the goal, but permitted a penalty shot, which Kossoff deflected up high and away.

In net, Kossoff made 29 saves on 31 shots, while McKay stopped 20 of 21 to collect the win.

Since New Year’s, the Mavericks have allowed just 25 goals in 19 games.  Of the 19 games, they have allowed more than 2 just once, a 5-3 win against Lake Superior. 

Lake Superior will look to extend their season tonight, as they aim to hand the Mavericks just their second loss on home ice all season (a 1-0 win by the Lakers on January 19th was the first).  Game time is at 8:07 p.m. EST.

WCHA Playoff Semifinal Series Preview: #20 Lake Superior State at #2 Minnesota State

#20 Lake Superior State: 23-11-2

#2  Minnesota State: 29-7-2

Favorited Mavs Looking to Gore Lakers

There are a lot of people online talking about how the Minnesota State-Mankato Mavericks could very well go on to win the whole NCAA tournament. Being behind only St. Cloud State in the USCHO poll & #3 behind St. Cloud State and UMass in the Pairwise this is to be expected. After seeing how they played this year, the point would be hard to argue. Against the upstart Lake State team, the Purple Bulls are 3-1…but remember, that 1 loss was at the Verizon Wireless Center.

The junior trio of forwards Marc Michaelis, Parker Tuomie and Charlie Gerard lead the Mavs in scoring. Michaelis leads the pack with 19-20-39, Turomie with 14-23-37 and Gerard has 10-17-27 total points. Dallas Gerads has the third most goals with 12, and 21 total points.

Dryden McKay is the outstanding freshman goaltender for Minnesota State. He has played in 30 of their 38 games and has posted a 21-6-2 record. Outgoing senior Mathias Israelsson has played in 10 games, with an 8-1-0 record. McKay has posted a 1.72 GAA and a .928 Save%.

There doesn’t seem to be many holes in their armor, so the Lakers will be in for a tough one.

First Playoff Series Win Propel Lakers

It has been a long time since the Lakers have won a playoff series, let alone one at home. But with a pair of 3-1 wins against the Bemidji State Beavers, the Lakers travel once again to Mankato, the site of many losses for the Lakers. But again, the Lakers beat them in their own arena once this year, and forced a game three against them in a previous playoff series.

Diego Cuglietta still leads the team with 24 goals, 16t assists for 40 total points on the season. He remains only a single point off of the century mark, and is one goal ahead of ASU’s Johnny Walker and NMU’s Troy Loggins for the most goals in NCAA D1 hockey.

Following behind him still are fellow senior Anthony Nellis (15-18-33) and junior Max Humitz (16-16-32). Humitz is poised to hit the 100 point mark next season, if he chooses to return. As of right now, going into this series he has 80 points. His lowest point total was last year with 23 points.

Unless something radical happens, I believe that for the rest of the WCHA playoffs with feature senior goaltender Nick Kossoff will have the net. Playing in 25 games, he has posted 17 wins, 6 losses and 2 ties alongside a 2.45 GAA and a .917 Save%. If the series goes three games, you may see Mitens.

There’s a lot that can happen this weekend. Please refer to the previous post for some of the highlights of the year if things go south. I’m certainly hoping this won’t be my final preview.

As always, the game will be streamed on FloHockey.tv, and can be heard locally over the air on 99.5 YesFM, online at yesfm.net or on the Tunein app. If the stream is down for YesFM, the Mankato audio stream can be heard on 1420 KTOE:http://radio.securenetsystems.net/v4/index.cfm?stationCallSign=KTOE

The school is also holding a viewing party for all (potentially) three games this weekend at Buffalo Wild Wings. Puck Drops at 8:05pm EDT for each game.

Sweep! Lakers down Bemidji State, advance to semifinals

Hampus Eriksson (extreme right) puts the eventual game winner over Bemidji State goaltender Zach Driscoll.

Lake State is moving on.

By picking up a 3-1 win, Lake Superior State won its first playoff series since their 2012 first round matchup against the University of Alaska.  That series was also at home and ended in a sweep.

“It was a big weekend for us,” said Lakers head coach Damon Whitten.  “We earned home ice and we had to defend it, so I thought we did a really good job.  You have to be good defensively this time of the year and I thought we defended at a high level.  You need great goaltending and we got that too.  Special teams need to be good and this weekend they were as well.”

Much like their game from the previous night, Lake Superior State (23-11-2) and Bemidji State (15-17-6) started out playing a wide open end to end game.  Unlike Friday’s game, however, the Beavers had a much easier time generating shots on net, as they built up a strong shot advantage in the early going.  Lake Superior fought back as the period wore on, closing the gap.

Lake Superior drew first blood when Max Humitz gave the Lakers a 1-0 lead that was initially waved off on the ice, despite the puck being in the net.  A short review validated the tally, giving the forward from Livonia, Michigan, his 16th goal of the season.

Fighting for their playoff lives, the Beavers struck back a short time later.  A heavy shot by Justin Baudry eluded Laker goalie Nick Kossoff, tying the game at one goal apiece before the conclusion of the second period.  After having been outshot 11-9 in the opening frame, Lake Superior outshot the Beavers 17-12 in the middle stanza.

Early in the third period, Lake Superior got its first power play opportunity when Ethan Somoza went off for hooking.  On the ensuing power play, Hampus Eriksson picked up a pass from the opposite faceoff circle and buried the puck behind Driscoll, restoring the Laker lead with his third goal of the year.

Following the goal, the Beavers upped the pressure, desperately trying to net the tying goal.  A pair of minor penalties hindered their efforts, with one coming immediately after the Eriksson goal and the other with less than 5 minutes to play.

In earning the win, Kossoff stopped 38 of 39 shots.  Driscoll, meanwhile, made 29 saves on 31 shots faced.

Interestingly, no penalties were called in the first two periods.  Like Friday, there were few trips to the sin bin in general.

By picking up two assists on the night, forward Diego Cuglietta is now sitting at 99 career points.  With one more goal or assist, he will become the first Laker to reach the century mark since Dominic Monardo did so in 2013.  Like Monardo, if he is to do it, it must happen on the road.

With all of the upper seeds winning their respective playoff series, the Lakers will venture to Mankato next weekend to take on regular season champion Minnesota State.  The Mavericks (29-7-2) dispatched Alabama Huntsville in their quarterfinal series.

 

Lakers pound Bemidji State 4-2 in quarterfinal matchup

In their first home playoff game since joining the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), the Lake Superior State Lakers earned a hard fought 4-2 win on the ice at the Taffy Abel Arena.

A successful power play was the difference maker for the Lakers (22-11-2), as they went 2 for 3 with the man advantage, and notched one more just after the expiration of another power play.

Both teams came out of the opening puck drop with a great deal of energy, as end to end rushes dictated the play through the early part of the first.  Bemidji State (15-16-6) drew first blood when freshman Nick Cardelli ripped the puck past Laker goaltender Nick Kossoff midway thru the first period.

Lake Superior evened things up early in the second when Jay Dickman went off for throwing the stick.  The Lakers sustained pressure on Driscoll, but could not capitalize on the power play itself.  Just eight seconds after the Beavers returned to full strength, Diego Cuglietta collected his own rebound and slipped it past the outstretched leg of Driscoll for his 24th goal of the season.  Cuglietta has the most goals in a season among all Lakers players since 1995-96.

Late in the middle frame, the Beavers were assessed another penalty, this time to Dillon Eichstadt for interference.  Much like on their first attempt, the Lakers were largly stymied by Driscoll .  Unlike their first power play, Lake Superior managed to capitalize, as a long shot by Lukas Kälble eluded the Beaver goalie, giving the home team its first lead of the night.

In the third period, on their next power play, Ashton Calder found Anthony Nellis all alone on the left side of Driscoll, who potted the puck before the netminder could get into position, giving the Lakers a 3-1 lead.

Shortly after the Nellis goal, the Lakers found themselves in a precarious position.  A delayed penalty to Steven Ruggiero enabled the Beavers to pull Driscoll for an extra attacker.  Brad Johnson rang a shot off of a goalpost that hit just right, going behind Kossoff and making the score a one goal affair.  Making matters worse for Lake Superior, the penalty still had to be served.  Luckily for the Lakers, their penalty kill proved up to the task and kept the Beavers at bay.

With time running out, Bemidji State reverted to a more physical game, hoping to earn the equalizer.  The Beavers were unsuccessful in this endeavour, and Max Humitz scored an empty netter from the blue line with 15 seconds to play, locking up a 4-2 win for Lake Superior.

In net, Kossoff made 29 of 31 saves.  Across the ice, Dirscoll stopped 17 of 20 shots.

The last time the Lakers hosted a playoff series was in 2012-13, which was the final season of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA).  The Lakers fell in three games to Bowling Green State that season.

The two teams will play game two of the best-of-three quarterfinal series on Saturday.  Game time is 7:07 p.m. EST.

Postseason Series Preview: Bemidji State At #20 Lake Superior State University

Bemidji State: 15-15-6

#20 Lake Superior State: 21-11-2

Beavers Bouncing Back

First, let me congratulate all the teams that made it to the WCHA tournament this year, from top to bottom. As for Ferris & Anchorage: Better luck next year.

The Beavers from Bemidji has certainly had some interesting series this year: Starting the year at #13 North Dakota and taking the first game of the series, to splitting with Northern Michigan to start a 4-game streak, sweeping Anchorage in the process and taking one against Merrimack. Then: A four game losing skid, starting with Merrimack, heading into a series against #2 St. Cloud State, before splitting with #3 Minnesota State. After this start, we would see them splitting most series.

Going into the post season, they are led in scoring by senior defenseman & co-captain Justin Baudry, with 8-22-30pts. Following him are two forwards: sophomore Charlie Combs (11-10-21) and junior Adam Brady (8-13-21). In addition to Combs, Aaron Miller and Owen Sillinger round out the top 3 goal scorers.

Their goaltending situation is similar to that of the Lakers: Zach Driscoll has been the go-to, with the freshman netminder playing in 25 games & posting a 10-9-4 record with a 2.296 GAA and a .910 Save %. Henry Johnson, a sophomore, has played 14 games, with an overall record of 5-5-2, with a 1.96 GAA and a .916 Save %. Jack Burgart has a single start & posted a loss in that contest.

These two teams have met once before this season, on January 25th & 26th, with the Beavers losing Friday night before winning 5-3 Saturday.

Lakers Face Familiar Foes in Familiar Waters

Well, Laker fans, what a turnaround this series has been, eh?

The fans at the Taffy Abel Arena were able to thank the outgoing seniors and wish them off, in what would be their final regular season game…and for the first time in a long time, not their final home game of the year. The Lakers would go to split the weekend, and Senior Night was ruined with the loss Saturday.

Your top scorers and goal-getters are of no surprise: They’ve been the ones we’ve been talking about all season. Co-Captain Diego Cuglietta leads the pack with 23-14-37pts and is currently only 4 points off the century mark. Following him is fellow Senior & Assistant Captain Anthony Nellis, with 14-17-31pts and Max Humitz with 14-16-30pts. Everyone wants to see Diego hit that mark, but I hope the team does not try to feed him this weekend: winning is much more important than an individual record.

Kossoff, again, owns the net. Playing in 23 contests, the senior netminder has a 15-6-2 record, with a 2.53 GAA and a .913 Save %. Sophomore Mareks Mittens did not play last weekend, so his 11 games & 6-5-0 record and 2.31 GAA and .919 Save % remain unchanged.

The Lakers will have to play much better than they did the last time they saw Bemidji, and better than we saw for most of Saturday night’s game last week. They also cannot take any stupid penalties; the Beavers are too good of a team to give them any help. Note: The winner of this series will go on to face the winner of the Minnesota State-Alabama-Huntsville series.

Potential Parting Thoughts

Win or lose this weekend, we as fans should be proud of the team, it’s been full of fun little tidbits & records: with 23 goals, Diego has the most goals of any Laker since Joe Blaznek & Jason Sessa had 22 back in 1996-1997 season. Only one player since has even reached 20: Domenic Monardo. Staying with Diego, he is tied for first in most goals in NCAA with Arizona State’s Johnny Walker, & finally he is a Hobey Baker nominee.

With 21 wins on the season, Damon Whitten ties Jim Roque for the most wins in the regular season since Jeff Jackson left the school. Roque did it in 2006-2007, and Jackson posted 30 wins in his final season in 1995-1996

For the first time in program history, the Lakers took home a Great Lakes Invitational win.

They have been ranked every week since January 7th.

The Lakers have had 17 players be named for either Player of the Week or Player on the month between all categories:

Forwards: Gelsinger, Cuglietta, Humitz (x2), Nellis

Defenseman: Saccoman (x2 week, 2x Month), Ruggerio

Goaltender: Mitens & Kossoff

Rookie: Veillette, Nordqvist (1x week, 1x Month), Calder (x1 Week, x1 Month)

The puck drops at 7:07pm Friday and Saturday nights. If a third game is needed, it will be played at 4:07pm Sunday. Tickets are now available at the box office or online. If you are in the area, or can make to the arena, I implore you to, our boys will need all that energy. If you cannot make it, or are too far away, turn your dials to 99.5 YESfm, or online at yesfm.net, or use the Tunein App to listen to the game. Or you can watch the game online for a fee using FloHockey.tv, which is the official source to view every WCHA game.