Month: December 2019

Holiday Tournament Preview: Catamount Cup

The field for the 2019 Catamount Cup.

For the third year in a row, and fifth time in head coach Damon Whitten’s tenure, Lake Superior State will partake in a holiday tournament, returning to Burlington, Vermont for the Catamount Cup.

The event is usually referred to as a tournament, but all of the matchups are preset.  Host Vermont always plays the late games, likely so their fans may watch them at their regular starting time.  Disadvantages of this setup include the possibility of two teams going 2-0, no true championship game and the possibility that the tourney champs will not be honoured on the ice, as is custom.

Lake Superior joins Union and Providence in Burlington, all of whom will look to dethrone the host Catamounts, who won the cup last season.  The Lakers play the Friars in the early game at 4:00 p.m. EST on Saturday, and face Vermont at 7:05 p.m. EST on Sunday.

About the Lakers

It was a rough first half for Damon Whitten’s crew, as the Lakers (6-15-1, 4-9-1 WCHA) have been unable to meet the lofty expectations that came about from last seasons’ success.  After an opening weekend sweep of Merrimack and playing Denver close, Lake Superior has picked up a home sweep of Ferris State (the first since joining the WCHA) and two non-consecutive wins against Bowling Green, but have struggled mightily, especially on the road.

Making his mark on the score sheet is senior Max Humitz (11-6–17), who currently sits at 93 points in his collegiate career, followed by Hampus Eriksson (4-11–15) and Pete Veillette (5-7–12).  Junior Mareks Mitens has seen the lion’s share of starts, and has a 3.16 goals against average and  .894 save percentage.

About the Friars

The Lakers will have their work cut out for them if they are looking to win another holiday tourney, following last season’s win in the Great Lakes Invitational.  Providence enters the tourney ranked #13 in the USCHO poll, #15 in the USA Today poll and currently sits atop the Hockey East standings.  The Friars (9-5-3, 6-4-2 Hockey East) look to be the favourites in this event.  Sophomores Jack Dugan (6-27–33) and Thopmson (13-14–27) sit 1-2 in scoring nationally, and junior Greg Printz (11-9–20) has also put up a hat full of points.  In net, senior Michael Lackey has a  2.45 GAA and a .915 SV%.

Providence and the Lakers have a couple of connections: assistant coach Ron Rolston was a member of Jeff Jackson’s staff during the championship era, while Lake State’s current Sports Info Director, Kelsey Smith, is an alumni of Providence College.

Both teams played in the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh during the 2017-18 season, but did not wind up facing each other.  The Friars downed Arizona State and host Robert Morris to claim the title, while Lake Superior fell to Robert Morris, but defeated the Sun Devils for a 3rd place finish.

About the Catamounts

…And now for something completely different.  The Catamounts enter their tournament with one of the worst records in the nation at 1-11-2 overall and 0-8-1 in league play.  Kevin Sneddon’s bunch has not won since October 19th, when they defeated St. Lawrence in their 2nd game of the year.  They are winless in their last 12 games, although ties against Boston University and Arizona State are interspersed.

In scoring, defenceman Andrew Lucas leads the ‘Cats with a paltry 7 points, followed by forwards Ace Collins (3-3–6) and Jacques Bouquot (1-5–6).  Between the pipes, Stefanos Lekkas has played each game, posting a 2.86 GAA and a .908 SV%.

During the 2015-16 season, Lake Superior and Vermont played on the first day of the tourney.  The Catamounts won 1-0 en route to securing the tourney crown against Colgate the following night.  Lake Superior appeared to tie the game in the final minute of regulation but it was judged that goaltender Patrick Munson had been interfered with.

About the Dutchmen

Union, under bench boss Rick Bennett, can have a bearing on where the Lakers finish in this tournament due to ties being decided by total goals scored.  The Dutchmen (5-12-0, 3-5-0 ECAC) come into the tournament having won 3 of their last 4, after an abysmal start to the year which saw them go 1-7 in October.  Leading the team in scoring is senior Anthony Rinaldi (4-7–11), while goaltender Darion Hanson has put up a 2.79 GAA and .907 SV%.

Mitens named WCHA Goaltender of the Week

Mareks Mitens earned his second career WCHA weekly honour with his performance against tenth-ranked Bowling Green this past weekend (LHB File Photo)

In what are likely the final weekly awards to be presented in the 2019 calendar year by the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), Lake Superior State goaltender Mareks Mitens was named Goaltender of the Week for his performance against 10th ranked Bowling Green State this past weekend.

On Friday night, Mitens stopped 34 of 35 shots faced against the Falcons, taking the tough-luck 2-0 loss against netminder Eric Dop.  Saturday saw him allow two goals by the visitors, but picked up the win thanks to a Hampus Eriksson tally in overtime, which enabled the Lakers (6-15-1, 4-9-1 WCHA) to earn a 3-2 win and series split.

All told, Mitens made 64 of 67 possible saves (for a .955 save percentage) against a team ranked 13th in the nation in total offence.

In collecting his second ever WCHA weekly honour, Mitens beat out Austin Shaw of Ferris State, Nolan Kent of Northern Michigan and his opponent this weekend in Dop.

In addition to Mitens’ win, fellow Lakers Max Humitz and Louis Boudon were nominated for Forward of the Week and Rookie of the Week, respectively.

This was the first weekly award won by a Laker since early November, when Collin Saccoman, Boudon and Ashton Calder each won an award.

Series Preview: #10 Bowling Green at Lake Superior State

#10 Bowling Green: 11-5-1

Lake Superior State: 1-14-1

Bowling Green Recuse Win Against Chargers

The WCHA is having a great year in the national standings, with Minnesota State having been in the #1 spot for the last month or so, Bowling Green has also been up and down the rankings most of the season & the league currently has MTU and NMU receiving the most votes of teams not ranked.

The Falcons of Bowling Green are coming off an interesting weekend. After what looks to have been meltdown of epic proportions from Alabama-Huntsville Chargers on Friday night, allowing 9 unanswered goals after going up 3-0, and two players taking 10 minute misconducts within 2 minutes of each other in the second, the Chargers forced a close game Saturday night. The two battled to a 2-2 tie, with Bowling Green taking the extra conference point in 3×3 overtime.

Senior Defenseman Alec Rauhauser leads the team in points, totaling 17, followed b a pair a junior forwards, Connor Ford with 17, and Cameron Wright with 16 – 11 of those being goals, which leads the team. Junior Eric Dop continues to be their workhorse goalie with a 2.06 GAA and a .914 Save %.

Lakers Gored by Minnesota State

This season has been a rough one for our Lakers, to say the least. They took a drumming last week against the Minnesota State Mavericks, being outscored 7-1, with Saturday night being a shutout. Mareks Mitens also sits on top for Division 1 goalies for goals against, with a whopping 60, 7 more than UConn’s Thomas Vomacka, a Nashivlledraft pick, and 10 more than Wisconson’s Daniel Lebedeff. He sits 64rd out of 71 ranked goalies in Save Percentage (.886) and 64th in Goals Against Average (3.34).

Now, don’t get this wrong – I am not suggesting that this is Marek’s fault alone. In fact, it’s the opposite.  We sit tied in 8th place overall for most penalties, with 97 on the year (Alaska leads the group by a mile, with 128 penalties), resulting in 238 penalty minutes, which is good enough for 14th place. Again I say that the coaching staff either needs to come up with different combinations, or try out some kids who don’t normally play. At this point, why not see what Vida can do, for instance? Or the players need to come together and figure out who they work well with in practice and suggest using said line.

There are some bright spots, While we are tied with Maine on faceoffs lost, we are second in faceoffs won, also behind Maine. The Lakers have 620 FW with Maine taking 637. At this point last year, the Lakers were ranked 44th in shots blocked, with 168. This year, we are sitting in 27th with 193.

But this is the last weekend of play for the half, not counting the Catamount Cup just after Christmas. The Lakers are sitting alone in 7th place, just ahead of Ferris State and Alaska Anchorage by a single point, and trailing Northern Michigan by 7. Depending on how well the Lakers, Bulldogs and Chargers play this weekend (UAH is in last with 5 points, but play Ferris this weekend. UAA are off), we could, possibly, be even more on the bubble of missing playoffs. I believe we currently have the tiebreaker on Ferris, but I am not sure about UAA.

Puck drops at 7:00pm both Friday and Saturday nights here in Sault Sainte Marie. Listen to the game locally by tuning your dial to 99.5, or listen through TuneIn or other streaming methods. If you want to view the game, FloHockey is where you need to go if you cannot make it to the arena.

Lakers nicked by Maverick buzz saw

Lake Superior State faced the wrong opponent for a team looking to right the ship on its season.

Minnesota State, the top team in the major college hockey polls, and largely seen as the team to beat in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) showed exactly why they were so ranked with a series sweep over the Lakers with 5-1 and 2-0 wins at home.

Both Friday and Saturday night saw the Mavericks (14-1-1, 9-1-0 WCHA) outshoot Lake Superior (5-14-1, 3-8-1 WCHA) in the first period, yet be held scoreless thanks to the play of goaltender Mareks Mitens.  The Lakers were outshot by nearly identical 11-7 and 12-7 margins in both opening periods on the weekend.

Although they held the hosts off the board in the first, the Mavericks broke thru in the second on both night.  On Friday, Minnesota State took advantage of Laker penalties, as Dallas Gerards and Parker Toomie each netted goals with the extra man.  Pete Veillette got the Lakers on the board late in the second, but that was all the offense the Lakers mustered all weekend.  Three more goals in the third for Minnesota State (one more on the power play) sealed the deal.

Saturday night, Lake Superior shut down the Minnesota State, yet surrendered a goal on special teams regardless, with a shorthanded goal in the second period.  A goal late in the third capped off the scoring for the Mavericks.

The end result could have been worse for the Lakers, as they benefited from 5 shots Minnesota State rang off the pipes on the weekend.

With the win, Minnesota State extended their winning streak to 9 games, not having lost since falling to Bowling Green in overtime on November 1st.  Lake Superior, meanwhile, fell to 1-8-1 in their last 10.

Lake Superior returns home this weekend for the final home series of 2019.  They face Bowling Green this Friday and Saturday.  Game time is 7 p.m. both nights.