Category: Game Recaps

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.

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.

Lakers down Michigan Tech, claim GLI Championship

The Lakers celebrate with the John MacInnes Cup beneath the Great Lakes Invitational banner (Mike Barrett/LHB).

Bryan Basilico’s first goal of the year was the difference maker as Lake Superior State defeated Michigan Tech 6-3 to win their first ever Great Lakes Invitational (GLI) title.

Senior Captain Diego Cuglietta, who had four goals during the tourney, was crowned Most Valuable Player of the 54th incarnation of the GLI.  He was joined by goaltender Nick Kossoff and defenseman Collin Saccoman, who were also named to the All Tournament Team.

In a reversal of their first period against Michigan State the previous day, it was the Lakers (11-6-1, 6-5-1 WCHA) who jumped out to a two goal lead.  Cuglietta’s third goal of the tourney was followed by Hampus Erikkson’s first goal of the year just over a minute later.  Erikkson collected his own rebound off his initial shot on Huskies netminder Robert Beydoun and squeezed the puck thru on the short side.

The Huskies rallied to tie the game, with a Jake Lucchini wraparound cutting the lead in half.  Michigan Tech tied it up early in the second when a major penalty and game misconduct was assessed to Gage Torrel for contact to the head.

Nevertheless, Lake Superior regained the lead when Max Humitz drilled a shot from inside the right faceoff circle.  Humitz was aided by Cuglietta, who screened Beydoun.

Late in the period, with Michigan Tech’s Trenton Bliss off for hooking, Bryan Basilico knocked in a pass from Brayden Gelsinger right in front of the net, restoring the two goal lead.

Early in the third, the Huskies closed the gap further, as a goal by Bliss made it 4-3 Lakers.  Lake Superior appeared to make it 4-2 with a tally by Humitz, but the goal was disallowed due to a player in the crease.

With a tight game, the Lakers did what they needed to do, sustaining offensive zone pressure late, making it difficult for the Huskies to pull Beydoun.

Finally, with over a minute left, Michigan Tech coach Joey Shawhan pulled Beydoun in favour of an extra skater.  The moved backfired, as Cuglietta notched his fourth goal of the tourney with a shot from centre ice.

Rolling the dice again, Beydoun was pulled a second time, but a shot by Steven Ruggiero from deep within his own zone lightly bounced off a post and in the goal, securing a 6-3 win and GLI title.

This was the fourth time Lake Superior was invited to the GLI.  Their previous three trips saw them finish 2nd (1996), 3rd (1977) and 4th (1999).  Now they have finished in all four spots.

For the Huskies, this marks the fourth straight season in which they have fallen in the title game.  Last year saw them lose to Bowling Green, while they have also fallen to Western Michigan and Michigan (twice).

The two teams will face off again in February in WCHA play.

Lakers upend Michigan State in GLI semifinal, will play Tech for title

Diego Cuglietta’s overtime winner was the difference maker in a 4-3 win for Lake Superior State against Michigan State in the second semifinal game of the Great Lakes Invitational (GLI) at the home of the Detroit Red Wings.

The Spartans (6-10-1, 2-5-1 Big Ten) jumped out to a 2-0 lead with goals by Dennis Cesana and Wojciech Stachowiak.  After settling down, Lakers netminder Nick Kossoff kept Michigan State at bay, including the line of Taro Hirose, Patrick Khodorenko and Mitch Lewandowski, who have a combined 23 goals and 35 assists between them.

“We didn’t come out strong, going down by two goals was tough, but we battled back and stuck with it,” said Lakers assistant coach Mike York.

“This is a great group of kids who come into practice and work hard every day,” added York, on the team culture.

Anthony Nellis halved the Lakers’ deficit with a rocket from the high slot midway thru the first period.  Later, Cuglietta redirected a Nellis shot on the power play, tying the game in the process.

Lake Superior (10-6-1, 6-5-1 WCHA) took the lead midway thru the game when Max Humitz executed a perfect wraparound that beat Spartan goaltender John Lethemon, giving the Lakers their first lead of the afternoon.

Michigan State tied the game in the third when a Laker turnover led to a 3 on 1.  Stachowiak picked up his second of the day, which was enough to force overtime.

A faceoff in the Spartan end following an icing set up Lake Superior for the win.  Cuglietta collected a pass from Jacob Nordqvist and buried the puck behind Lethemon for the win.

Lake State is set to take on tourney host Michigan Tech in the title game tomorrow.  The game will follow the consolation game between Michigan State and Michigan, which starts at 11:30 a.m.  Michigan (6-7-5, 2-4-4-2 Big Ten) and Michigan Tech (10-7-2, 9-2-1-1 WCHA) skated to a 2-2 tie in the first semifinal game.  A shootout victory by the Huskies lifted them into the championship.

“They’re a good team, they made the tournament out of our league last year,” said York, on the Huskies.  “We’ve struggled against them in the past, but this is a new year and a new group of guys.” 

Lakers can’t carry Friday momentum, dealt first loss of season

Defenseman Collin Saccoman had a late goal against the Wolverines, but too little time remained on the clock for the Lakers to avoid their first loss of the season (Mike Barrett/LHB)

SAULT STE. MARIE — Coming off of a convincing 5-2 win against the University of Michigan on Friday night, the Lake Superior State Lakers could not maintain their positive momentum, as the Wolverines (4-3-0, 0-0-0 Big Ten) dealt the Lakers (5-1-0, 2-0-0 WCHA) a 5-3 loss, their first loss of the 2018-19 season.

As he has done in each series this young season, head coach Damon Whitten started Mareks Mitens in net following the Friday night start by Nick Kossoff.

As they had the previous night, the Wolverines opened the scoring.  Josh Norris put the puck past Mitens less than 4:00 into the game.  Michigan took a 2-0 lead when Jake Slaker found the back of the net later that period.

Lake Superior got on the board themselves late in the first period when senior forward Diego Cuglietta netted his third goal of the year.  Cuglietta, who hails from Kamloops, British Columbia, beat Michigan netminder Strauss Mann with just 15 ticks left on the clock.

Coming out of the locker room trailing 2-1, Lake Superior wasted little time tying the game up. Senior Anthony Nellis, who had a four point night on Friday, evened things up just 1:36 into the period.  Nellis’ goal was assisted by Gage Torrel and Jacob Nordqvist, who both had two assists on the evening.

The game did not stay tied for long, however, as the Wolverines scored twice in exactly two minutes.  Jack Becker made the score 3-2 Michigan and Quinn Hughes added to that on a power play.  Michigan scored another goal in the second period when Slaker potted his second of the night while shorthanded.

While the third period saw the shots favor Lake Superior 18-6, the home team could not claw their way back into the game.  Defenseman Collin Saccoman (who had 5 blocked shots on the night) put the Lakers within two, but his goal, which came with 1:13 left in the game, was too little too late, as the Wolverines skated away with a 5-3 win.

In goal, Mitens stopped 24 of 29, taking the loss in the process.  Across the ice, Mann made 28 saves out of 31.

During the first intermission, the five inductees into the LSSU Sports Hall of Fame were honored on the ice, including two former National Champion hockey players.  Darrin Madeley (1989-92) and Mark Astley (1988-92), both key components in guiding Lake Superior to the 1992 title, were inducted into the Hall of Fame earlier that day, along with Ben Dewar (basketball, 1999-2003), Jean (Carbeno) Kreidler (Volleyball, 1980-84), and Margaret (Olson) Pollard (softball, volleyball and basketball, 1977-81).

Lake Superior is home again next weekend when they face the Nanooks of the University of Alaska Fairbanks on Friday, November 8th and Saturday, November 9th.  Opening faceoff for both games is at 7:07 p.m. EST.

 

Four point night by Nellis guides Lakers past 12th ranked Wolverines

Anthony Nellis (seen last season against the USNTDP) had a four point night (1G, 3A) in leading Lake Superior past Michigan (Mike Barrett/LHB)

SAULT STE. MARIE — Talk about a night that had it all.

A four point night by a forward, two players scoring their first collegiate goals and a visit from an opponent who has not seen the Taffy Abel Arena in a long time.

Lake Superior (5-0-0, 2-0-0 WCHA) downed the Michigan Wolverines behind a goal and three assists by Anthony Nellis en route to a 5-2 win on Great Lake State Weekend (GLSW).

The Wolverines (3-3-0, 0-0-0 Big Ten) opened the scoring when Josh Norris got the puck past Laker goaltender Nick Kossoff.  The goal was not enough to diminish the home crowd of over 3100, however, and the Lakers responded with two goals 43 seconds apart.

A delayed penalty to Michigan’s Nicholas Boka was called right before Brendan McKay put a shot on net.  While Hayden Lavigne made the initial save, Nellis was waiting and buried the puck.

With Boda off for hooking, the Lakers capitalized on their power play when Brayden Gelsinger scored, giving the Lakers a lead.

Starting the second period, Lake Superior kept the goals coming, as Jacob Nordqvist potted his first in a Laker uniform just 39 seconds into the period.  A short while later, Humitz scored a power play goal, making the score 4-1 Lakers.

Factoring into both goals were Lukas Kälble and Nellis.  By earning a helper on Gelsinger’s earlier goal, the senior from Breakyville, Quebec had a hand in all four Laker goals to that point.

The Wolverines scored another when Jake Slaker made the score 4-2.  Aided by Laker penalties, Michigan sustained much offensive pressure in the waning moments of the second period, but Kossoff came up big for his team, as the Lakers returned to the dressing room up by two with 20 minutes to play.

Down by two, Michigan attempted to rally, but the Laker defensive corps kept the Wolverines from generating many shots.  Lake Superior appeared to score the back breaker, but the shot by Gelsinger went off the crossbar and was confirmed no goal on the replay.

Regardless, the Lakers managed to get their back breaker when Gage Torrel dropped the puck back to the blue line, where a defenseman drilled the puck past Lavigne.  That defenseman was Steven Ruggiero, who earned his first collegiate goal.

In net, Kossoff made 28 saves on 30 shots.  Lavigne stopped 25 of 30 in the loss.

Michigan, under head coach Mel Pearson, came into the weekend ranked 12th in the USCHO.com poll.  They started the year ranked at number 4, but have dropped in each subsequent poll.

The teams conclude their series tonight.  Puck drop is set for 7:07 p.m.

Eriksson goal propels Lakers to sweep of Chargers

Hampus Eriksson (24) netted the game winner for Lake Superior against Alabama Huntsville, giving the Lakers a series sweep (Mike Barrett/LHB)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Minor penalties come with power plays that last exactly two minutes of game time.  No more, less only if a goal is scored by the team with the power play.

Anybody who has been around the game, however, will say the power play doesn’t truly end until the penalized team regains control of the puck.

Hampus Eriksson’s game winner Saturday night is not on the books as a power play goal.  But, with the goal coming just four seconds after the expiration of a penalty, the argument exists that it was a power play tally.

Lake Superior (4-0-0, 2-0-0 WCHA) needed a two goal third period to rally past Alabama Huntsville (0-8-0, 0-2-0 WCHA) in the second game of their weekend series, picking up a series sweep in the process.

The Chargers, who are hungry for their first win of the season, struck first early in the second period on a goal by Jack Jeffers.  The freshman potted his second goal of the season on Lakers goaltender Mareks Mitens, who earned the start from head coach Damon Whitten.

With the shots close to even after two periods (18-17 in favour of the Chargers), Alabama Huntsville, in front of a home crowd of 3083, came out firing away at Mitens in the final period.  The native of Ventspils, Latvia, made several big saves to keep his team in the game.

Lake Superior found the back of the net just past the 7:00 mark of the third period when Anthony Nellis connected for his third goal of the season.  Assisted by Gage Torrel and Eriksson, the Breakyville, Quebec native got in all alone on Sinclair and now has five points (3-2—5) so far on the season.

Looking for the go ahead goal, the Lakers got their chance when Bailey Newton was called for interference with 9:46 to play.  While the 2:00 power play itself yielded no goal, one was scored by Eriksson just after the penalty expired and before the Chargers could gain control of the puck.

Holding down the fort, Mitens and the Laker defense held back Alabama Huntsville’s furious effort to tie the game, collecting the 2-1 win in the process.

In net, Mitens had 29 saves on 30 shots.  For the Chargers, Sinclair came up with 24 saves on 26 attempts.

Dating back to last season, the Lakers are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games on the road.  The flipside of that, however, is that, in the last 10 home games, Lake Superior is 2-8-0.  The Lakers will look to amend that this coming weekend when they play host to the University of Michigan.  Friday’s game is set for a 7:37 p.m. puck drop, while the Saturday game is at 7:07 p.m.

Three goal third period leads Lakers past Chargers

Alex Ambrosio (seen here taking a penalty shot last season) scored the game winner on an empty net in the Lakers’ 4-3 win over Alabama Huntsville (Mike Barrett/LHB)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — An oddity that the Lake Superior State Lakers fell victim to in their 2017-18 season finale against Ferris State occurred again in their Friday night matchup against The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

This time, the oddity worked out in favour of the Lakers.

Alex Ambrosio’s first career goal was the difference maker as Lake Superior (3-0-0, 1-0-0 WCHA) survived a late rally by Alabama Huntsville (0-7-0, 0-1-0 WCHA) in a 4-3 conference win.

What makes the game winner by Ambrosio an oddity is that the goal was an empty netter.

The Lakers came out of the gate strong, peppering Chargers goaltender Mark Sinclair with 19 first period shots.  Sinclair was sharp, turning aside all but one of those shots.  Lake Superior converted when Anthony Nellis intercepted a pass on a penalty kill and found Brayden Gelsinger going the other way.  Coincidentally, Gelsinger’s second goal of the season was also the second shorthanded goal for Lake Superior this year.

Alabama Huntsville’s offense did a much better job of generating shots in the second period, equaling the Lakers’ 9 shots in the middle frame.  The Chargers tied things up on an early power play goal when Tyr Thompson took advantage of Lake Superior’s Ashton Calder sitting in the box for tripping.  The goal sent the teams to the dressing room after 40 minutes tied one apiece.

The third period saw the Chargers, who were looking to get in the win column for the first time this season, outshot the Lakers 15-7.  It was the Lakers, however, that found the back of the net first when the Lakers’ alternate captains each found the back of the net.  Defenceman Collin Saccoman scored his first of the season early in the period, while Nellis picked up his second goal of the year with less than 8:00 remaining in the game.

Their backs against the wall, Alabama Huntsville cut the Lake Superior lead to one with 4:35 left in the game.  Brandon Salerno got the puck past Kossoff for his first of the season, making the score 3-2 Lakers.

Needing another goal to force overtime, the Chargers pulled Sinclair for a sixth skater.  Less than 10 seconds after Sinclair made it to the bench, Lake Superior came up with the puck and Ambrosio, earning his first goal as a Laker, appeared to ice the game with only 1:21 left.

Alabama Huntsville showed their resolve, pulling Sinclair again to try and force overtime.  With 22 seconds remaining, Connor James put the Chargers within one and kept his team very much alive.

Although they were a goal away from overtime, the Chargers could not gain the zone long enough to pull their goaltender again for another extra attacker.  A couple shots by Kurt Gosselin did no harm as the Lakers pulled out a tense 4-3 victory.

In goal, Kossoff stopped 25 of the 28 shots he faced, while Sinclair made 31 stops on 34 shots.

Mitens earns shutout, Lakers earn sweep over Warriors

Mareks Mitens (seen here from an exhibition game against the USNTDP’s Under 18 squad last season) made 31 saves in picking up his second collegiate shutout (Mike Barrett/LHB)

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — And now for something completely different.

An afternoon after Lake Superior State and Merrimack combined for nine goals, only one goal was tallied for either team, but the Lakers were the squad to come up with the difference maker as they picked up a series sweep with a 1-0 win at Lawler Rink.

Owing perhaps to the quick turnaround from the previous day, both teams were sluggish out of the gate.  The game started at 4 p.m., about three hours ahead of the typical start time.

While the Lakers (2-0-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) outshot Merrimack (0-2-0, 0-0-0 Hockey East) 10-6 in the opening period, they were unable to solve Warriors goaltender Craig Pantano, who earned the start from coach Scott Borek in place of Drew Volger, who was victimized five times on just 19 shots.

Early in the second period, the Lakers’ efforts cashed in when Max Humitz, who had 13 last season to lead the team, picked up his second of the young season.  Nabbing the only assist on the goal was Brayden Gelsinger.

Noticeable throughout the game was the steadfast play of sophomore goaltender Mareks Mitens.  The native of Ventspilis, Latvia withstood a barrage of shots from the Warriors, who outshot the Lakers 25-14 over the final 40 minutes.

As time began to run short, the offensive pressure built for Merrimack, but Mitens held firm, making a few sensational saves along the way.

All in all, Mitens stopped all 31 shots he faced for his second career shutout.  His first came on February 3rd, 2018 in a 2-0 win over Bemidji State in which he made 36 saves.

In the other crease, Pantano took the loss with 23 saves on 24 shots.  One of two senior netminders for Merrimack, Pantano was sharp as well, taking a hard luck loss.

The Lakers open their home slate with a two game exhibition set against Nipissing College.  Both games are set to begin at 7 p.m.  A special ticket deal is available online only for $3.50 tickets to each game (in celebration of the 350th anniversary of the founding of Sault Ste. Marie).