Category: News

Scoreboard watching on a bye week

Conventional wisdom says a team cannot lose on its bye week.  Conversely, it cannot win either.

Those adages are not neccesarily true.

Lake Superior State enters their final bye week of the season scoreboard watching, as the outcomes of a number of games can make Lakers’ playoff hopes much more dire before the puck drops the following weekend against Ferris State.

The bottom of the WCHA standings is the typical logjam it has been for the past few seasons.  Alabama-Huntsville sits in 6th place with 30 points.  Alaska has 29 points in 7th place, Ferris State is in 8th with 28 points and the Lakers sit in 9th with 27.  In short, 6th and 9th are separated by just three points – or one league win.

The Bulldogs and Nanooks play Minnesota State and Bemidji State respectively this weekend; the Chargers, like the Lakers, are idle.

The following is a small breakdown of each team ahead of Lake Superior State that the Lakers can potentially pass, qualifying for the postseason in the process:

Alabama Huntsville – 30 points, 6th place

Remaining schedule – Home vs Bowling Green

The Chargers are 2-4-0 in their current homestand, being outscored by their opponents 21-16.  They were swept last weekend by the Mavericks, but took the fifth-ranked team to overtime on Friday night before falling 6-1 the next night.  

UAH and Bowling Green met back in December, with the Falcons taking 4 of 6 points in Ohio.  

Alaska – 29 points, 7th place

Remaining schedule – Away vs Bemidji State, Home vs Alaska-Anchorage

The Nanooks have been inconsistent for much of the season.  Their 5-0 win over then No. 7 Minnesota State was followed by three straight losses.  Alaska then followed a home sweep of Ferris State up with a trip to Marquette, where the 20th ranked Wildcats broke out their own brooms.

Alaska and Bemidji State split earlier in the year, with the Nanooks winning in overtime on Friday before falling 3-2 to the host Beavers the next night.  

Concerning the Seawolves, Alaska has won four games against their interstate rival (although two were played as a non-conference series).  All bets are off for a rivalry series, but the Nanooks should be favoured.

Ferris State – 28 points, 8th place

Remaining schedule – Away vs Minnesota State, Home vs Lake Superior

Ferris State has been about as streaky as they come.  Following a three game win streak in the beginning of December, the Bulldogs proceeded to go 1-9 in their next 10 games.  The lone win in that stretch was a 4-0 win over Lake Superior.  While a sweep of Michigan Tech gave the Bulldogs some life, a trip to Alaska the following weekend proved fruitless, as the Nanooks had their brooms in hand.

The Bulldogs face fifth ranked Minnesota State this weekend in Mankato before hosting the Lakers to end the season.  Ferris State has not played the Mavericks yet this year, a team that has laid waste to the rest of the conference (and much of college hockey).

Lake Superior State – 27 points, 9th place

Remaining schedule – Away vs Ferris State

The Lakers will enter their final weekend on a four game winning streak.  Making a desperate Northern Michigan-esque push to make the playoffs, Lake Superior swept Bemidji State on the road before flying to Anchorage and claiming two more wins.

Lake State’s final games of the regular season will take place at Ewigleben Arena, a place that has not been friendly to the Lakers over the years.  Then again, neither Bemidji nor Anchorage have been kind to the anchor either.

While the actions of other teams will play into the Lakers’ postseason hopes, one thing is certain — the Lakers must win one of their final games to have any hope of qualifying. 

The picture will become more clear after this weekend.  It is possible Alaska and Ferris State pull off sweeps, putting them beyond the reach of the Lakers.  Likewise, it is possible they both get swept, leaving them within striking distance.  The Lakers can catch Alabama Huntsville and, depending on how things go, may be crowded around a radio on the bus back to Sault Ste. Marie, intently listening to learn of their postseason fate. 

 

Nellis named WCHA Offensive Player of the Week

Anthony Nellis (seen here against Bemidji State) received his first ever weekly WCHA award for his two game winning goals against Alaska-Anchorage (Mike Barrett/LHB)

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – The Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) announced today its weekly recipients of their Player of the Week awards.  Among the recipients was Lake Superior junior forward Anthony Nellis.

Nellis, a native of Breakyville, Quebec, was named Player of the Week by scoring both game winning goals (plus an assist) against Alaska-Anchorage on February 9-10.  The goal on Friday was an overtime winner.

A junior, Nellis won his first ever weekly league award.  In winning, he was selected over senior Jordan Heller of Bemidji State, Michigan Tech senior Joel L’Esperance, Minnesota State sophomore Marc Michaelis and junior Denver Pierce of Northern Michigan.

In addition to Nellis’ win, goaltender Mareks Mitens was nominated for WCHA Rookie of the Week for his 22 save win over the Seawolves on Saturday.  Ethan Somoza, a forward from Bemidji State, won for his two points on the weekend.

Forward added for second half of season

SAULT STE. MARIE – With a depleted forward corps, Lake Superior State had added Alex Ambrosio to the squad for the second half of the 2017-18 season.

Ambrosio, who hails from Burnaby, British Columbia, spent the last 2.5 seasons playing for the Coquiltam Express of the British Columbia Hockey League.  

In 134 games for the Express, Ambrosio has 30 goals and 42 assists for 72 points.  

Serving as team captain to start this season, he played in 33 games, scoring 9 goals and adding 16 assists.

Elligible to play immediately for the Lakers, Ambrosio first dressed for Lake Superior tonight against Bemidji State.

Kossoff receives WCHA Goalie of the Week accolades

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – The Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) announced the recipients of its weekly awards, which are doled out to one player at each position (forward, defense, goaltender) plus one for rookie of the week, for the week of December 28-January 2.  Among the recipients was Lake Superior State goaltender Nick Kossoff.

Kossoff, a native of West Des Moines, Iowa, garnered the award when he stopped 48 of 49 shots in the consolation game at the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh on Saturday, December 30. 

In addition to leading the Lakers to 3rd place, he also made a relief appearance against Robert Morris in the first game of the tourney, where he made 19 stops on 21 shots when he came in to replace Mareks Mitens after one period.

In all, Kossoff made 67 of 70 saves, picking up a .957 save percentage on the weekend.

The other candidates for Goaltender of the Week were Northern Michigan’s Atte Tolvanen and Bemidji State’s Michael Bitzer, the latter of whom the Lakers will see this weekend at the Taffy Abel Arena.

Bowling Green State claimed the other three weekly awards in a weekend that saw them go 2-0 in the Great Lakes Invitational, claiming the championship by defeating Michigan 6-4 and Michigan Tech 4-1.  Sophomore Lukas Craggs (forward), sophomore Alec Rauhauser (defenseman) and goaltender Eric Dop (rookie) earned the other awards.

This is Kossoff’s second weekly accolade this season, as he was named Goaltender of the Week back in October for his record-setting performance against then-top ranked Denver.

News: Ruggerio Cleared by NCAA

The NCAA has officially cleared Sophomore transfer defenseman Steven Ruggerio to play this weekend against the Michigan Tech Huskies. 

The bad news of is that the team bus left Sault Saints Marie before this news broke. But I would expect to see him in the lineup this weekend, one way or another.

Hayes leaves Lake State in favor of SPHL

C.J. Hayes (20) playing in an exhibition game against Laurentian early this season. Hayes signed with the Mississippi RiverKings of the SPHL on Tuesday (Brittany Litchard/LHB)

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. – The Mississippi RiverKings of the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) announced Tuesday that they signed forward C.J Hayes to a standard player contract. Hayes, who hails from Margate, Florida played in 55 games for the Lakers, tallying 4 goals, 4 assists for 8 points, but he has only skated in three games for the Lakers this season as the forward ranks were bolstered in the recent offseason.

As of this posting, no official word from the school has been released. This is the second mid-semester signing of a player in two seasons, with the previous being defenseman Owen Headrick, who left the team a few weeks after the Christmas break to play with the Erie Otters in the OHL.

The 2017-18 team has now seen two early player departures, as netminder Cooper Lukenda left the team in early November to play junior hockey with the Kemptville 73’s of the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL).

We will update this post if more details come out from this departure. We wish C.J. nothing but the best as he takes his first steps into professional hockey.

Read the RiverKings’ release here: http://riverkings.com/news/posts/riverkings-sign-rookie-forward-cj-hayes-to-standard-player-contract

Laker Legion group promoting team spirit

No home game?  No problem.

Some of the Laker Legion members smile for a photo as they traveled to Marquette back in January 2017 (Courtesy Photo)

While the Laker teams are on the road this season, the Laker Legion student organization has been hosting viewing parties, enabling students to gather and watch their teams.

Over 50 fans were in attendance at the first party back on October 22nd, 2016. Fans watched the Lakers erase a quick 1-0 deficit with four unanswered goals en route to a 5-2 road victory and series sweep of the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers.

Gatherings have been held ever since, with Friday games typically being broadcast in Peacock Cove (in the basement of the Walker Cisler Center), and Saturday games over in the large lecture hall just outside of the main entrance to the library.

“The Laker Legion is a new student organization,” said Marc Boucher, a member of the Laker Legion Executive Board.  “The more excitement we can generate at our athletics events, the more fun we all can have.  The teams certainly feed off the increased enthusiasm of the students, and that makes it even more fun to attend.”

The idea for organizing such a student section has come from many areas, including sports marketing intern Abbie Laajala, head hockey coach Damon Whitten, and student government member Shelbey Smith. 

The Legion is not focusing on just hockey.  Boucher has stated that the Legion is looking to increase engagement, excitement and campus pride across the entire athletics program.  “We hope that by engaging students and student athletes in multiple venues that we can broaden all students’ campus experiences,” said Boucher.

The mission of the Legion, as described by Boucher, is to present students with the opportunity to organize and participate in supporting Laker athletics, to help build a culture of Laker pride among the entire campus community, to help student athletes and non-varsity athletes gain a better understanding of each other and form bonds, and to create a fun environment to demonstrate campus pride among colleagues. 

In addition to being a raucous, yet entertaining, bunch at home games, the Legion has also organized bus trips to see the team on the road.

Organized groups such as the Laker Legion have been attempted in the past, with “We Are Lake State” in the late 1990’s (during the Scott Borek era) and the “Laker Blue Crew” existing for a time while Jim Roque was at the helm of the Lakers.  For one reason or another, each of these groups eventually dissolved.

The Legion has stated that members of the public are free to come and watch the Lakers with the students.  With that in mind, many do, including many members of the Soo Blue Liners Club.

This club is open to all students.  For more information on the Legion, contact Boucher, Laajala, Smith, or Whitten.  To learn about more viewing parties in the future, keep an eye out for e-mails regarding them.

Lukenda departs Lake Superior, joins Kemptville of CCHL

Cooper Lukenda prepares for the 2017 Blue vs White game (Brittany Litchard/LakerHockeyBlog)

Lake Superior State goaltender Cooper Lukenda has left the Laker hockey team to pursue junior hockey.  The sophomore from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario has joined the Kempville 73’s of the Central Canada Hockey League. 

Lukenda came to Lake Superior via Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school in Faribault, Minnesota.  In his final season at Shattuck, Lukenda posted a 2.79 goals against average and a .897 save percentage in 33 games.

In his time with the Lakers, Lukenda did not play in any games, save for intrasquad exhibitions.  He dressed for the home games against Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech earlier this season.

Because he left for a junior team, he is still eligible to play hockey at the NCAA level.

Current Lakers Ian Johnston and Anthony Nellis came to Lake Superior via the CCHL.  Johnston played for the Brockville Braves, while Nellis starred for the Pembroke Lumber Kings.

Henke receives WCHA Offensive Player of the Week accolades

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) announced the recipients of its Players of the Week honors for games during the week of October 8th.  Among the honorees was Lake Superior senior forward J.T. Henke, who earned Offensive Player of the Week.

J.T. Henke (far right) celebrates a goal against Michigan State in October, 2016. Henke was selected as WCHA Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against Michigan Tech on Oct. 13 &14, 2017.

Henke scored one goal and four assists in the weekend series against Michigan Tech.  On Friday, Henke had three assists in a close 4-3 loss to the Huskies, who came in ranked 13th in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men’s College Hockey Poll and 15th in the USCHO.com Poll.

On Saturday, Henke scored the first goal of the game and later assisted on the game tying goal in the third period from Anthony Nellis. 

With his assist on the Nellis goal Saturday, Henke had an assist on every Laker goal on the weekend that he didn’t score himself.

Henke currently is tied for 11th nationally in scoring with six points.  In the WCHA, his five points in conference games – all coming this past weekend – have him at the top of the league in scoring.

This is the first time Henke has received weekly WCHA accolades in his Laker career.  Among the other nominees he beat out for the honors was one of his opponents from the weekend – Gavin Gould of the Huskies.

Among the nominees for other Player of the Week positions was freshman goaltender Mareks Mitens.  Mitens, who officially made 40 saves in his college hockey debut, was nominated for Rookie of the Week.  Mitens also made seven saves in the 3 on 3 overtime, including a stop on a Mark Auk penalty shot, but those saves ultimately do not count in his overall stats.

The Taffy Abel Gets A Facelift

Not only did the Lakers debut brand new home jerseys tonight (see previous post), a brand new item of wall decor was added to the northern wall of the Taffy Abel. This new wall highlights all of the Laker Hockey Alumni who have gone on to play one or more game in the NHL. A smaller version of this wall currently is displayed in the Laker locker room. To view the new wall, check out the video below!