Lake Superior State hockey team wrapped up its first series of the season on Sunday, October 6th. The Lakers (2-0-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) defeated the visiting Merrimack Warriors (0-2-0, 0-0-0 Hockey East) by a 4-3 score at home.
“It was kind of a tale of two nights,” Whitten said on the opening weekend. “We watched it back and thought we didn’t give up much offensively, but tonight they outworked us and that can’t happen. There are not many nights you’re going to steal a win getting outworked. It’s a good lesson, but two very different games.”
Merrimack got the scoring started when freshman defenseman Zach Uens put a shot behind Laker junior goaltender Mareks Mitens just 55 seconds into the contest. The Lakers did not wait long to respond, as junior defenseman Tyler Anderson answered for Lake Superior a mere 21 seconds later. For Anderson, it was the second goal of his Laker career.
Following the opening goals, both Mitens and Warriors freshman goaltender Troy Kobryn kept their respective opponents off the board for the remainder of the period.
Lake Superior struck next when senior forward Max Humitz notched his second goal of the season. Prior to the season, Humitz, along with senior defenseman Collin Saccoman, was named co-captain of the team this season.
Like the Lakers earlier, Merrimack managed a quick response of their own, as sophomore forward Jordan Seyfert tied things up 39 seconds after the Humitz goal. The Warriors retook the lead later in the period with a goal from senior forward Tyler Irvine.
Merrimack had a huge opportunity to add to their lead, as Humitz received a 5 minute major and a game misconduct for kneeing. The Lake Superior penalty kill held strong, however, sending the teams to the locker room with a one goal game after 40 minutes.
At 8:14 of the third period, the home Lakers managed to tie the game back up with a shot from junior defenseman Will Riedell. 1:27 later, Lake Superior went back in front courtesy of Saccoman.
Pulling Kobryn for an extra skater, Merrimack pushed hard for the tying goal. Mitens and the Laker defense stood tall, however, as Lake Superior held on for the 4-3 win, with Saccoman’s goal standing as the game winner.
In goal, Mitens stopped 20 of 23 shots to earn the win. Across the ice, Kobryn made 15 saves on 19 shots.
Special teams play saw both teams fruitless with the extra attacker. Lake Superior was 0 for 3, while the Warriors went 0 for 6, including the 5 minute power play.
After Sunday’s game, Whitten was complimentary about his defensive corps, who accounted for 5 of the team’s 10 goals on the weekend.
“We’ve talked a lot about them early on,” commented Whitten. “Five of our six starters are back, as well as guys who’ve also gotten experience in there. We have to lean on them to be strong defensively early on and for them to contribute offensively. They’re gonna have to be good for us all season long.”
On seeing a former Laker bench boss return to the arena, Whtten said that he and Borek “had a really good conversation Thursday, and Scott talked about what his time here meant to him. It was nice to hear him talk about all the things he loved about Sault Ste. Marie. I was a player when he was coaching here, so I know him more from playing against him, but it was great to hear him speak so fondly of his time here.”
Lake Superior is home again on Friday, October 11th and Saturday, October 12th, when they host the University of Denver for Great Lake State Weekend. Game time for Friday’s matchup is 7:30 p.m.