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.