The Denver Pioneers are coming off their 12th
straight NCAA tournament appearance and another Frozen Four appearance. They’re
also only two years removed from a national championship. Denver is lead by second-year head coach
David Carle, with assistants Tavis MacMillian, Dallas Ferusona nd Corey Wogtech.
Carle, who took over for Jim Montgomery, now with the Dallas Stars, posted a
24-12-5 record in his first season behind the bench.
On the ice, they are captained by senior defenseman Ian
Mitchell, and assisted by fellow defenseman Michael Davies and forward Tyson
McLellan, both of which are seniors. With two games under his belt, and both
wins, it looks like Swedish goaltender Magnus Chrona will be their starter…and
at 6’6, he takes up a lot of net.
Great Lake State Wins
Much like their opponents, the Lakers are coming off of a weekend sweep. Tripling up on Merrimack Saturday night, they won by a single goal Sunday. This weekend marks the 24th Great Lake State Weekend, which serves as Lake Superior State’s homecoming. There will be events going on all around campus both Friday and Saturday, but we will be focusing on the two games.
The last time these two teams met was two years ago in
Denver, where the Lakers nearly spoiled the Pioneers’ championship banner raising,
losing in OT, then being crushed 5-1 Saturday. They were also ranked #1.
That Laker team was much different than the current one,
both in players and mindset. After the incredible season last year, the team
finally has a winning attitude, and hopefully co-captains Max Humitz and Collin
Saccoman, with help from their alternates Brendan McKay and Lukas Kaelble can
take the momentum the team had last season and come out of the gate swinging.
If you are planning on attending the games this
weekend, we urge you to go online & reserve your seat ASAP if you have not
done so. GLSW weekend is generally the biggest weekend of the season in terms
of ticket sales. Friday night’s game starts at 7:30pm, with Saturday’s starting
at 7:00pm. The games will be broadcast locally by YesFM, with the Voice of the
Lakers Bill Crawford doing as he has done for so long, calling the
play-by-play. If you are not able to attend or listen, consider watching the
game through FloHockey.
Lake Superior State is getting set to drop the puck on the 2019-20 season, its 54th of collegiate play. The sixth season for Damon Whtten behind the bench will see its first game on Saturday, October 5th, when the Merrimack Warriors come to Sault Ste. Marie.
Last season, Lake State compiled a record of 23-13-2, the best mark for the squad since 1995-96, when Jeff Jackson guided the team to a 30-8-2 record. So many superlatives exist to describe just how eventful last season was to the team and its coach that this is not the place to list them.
One question burns on the minds of the Laker faithful: Can they do it again?
As we did last season, we will break down our preview by positions (forwards, defence, goaltending), scheduling and an overall outlook.
Mike: The story of the front unit for Lake Superior is obvious: Where will all of the goals come from?
Of the 123 goals scored by the team last year, the Lakers will be without the players who scored 48 this season. Diego Cuglietta, Anthony Nellis and Gage Torrel all saw the fruits of their labour last season after toiling for three years prior. But, as Whitten said during the WCHA Media Day, there was no reason to suspect that those players would have the seasons they did. There is no reason to suspect that forwards like Max Humitz (who will garner a ‘C’ this year) and Ashton Calder, can continue the upward trend.
The Lakers also saw more offensive support out of their 3rd and 4th lines, with Brendan McKay, Bryan Basilico and Hampus Eriksson all seeing increases from their previous season.
Dennis: The Lakers finding point scorers will be the big question to start the season. Max Humitz is within distance of the 100 point mark, coming into the season with 76. We saw Calder get going once he got some more ice time as the season went on – 22 points in 37 games. But with the likes of Cugiletta and Nellis gone, the forwards we didn’t see much of last year will have to step up, and the rookies too. Miroslav Mucha is one played I’m looking forward to seeing step up this year.In his last year of juniors he scored 55 points in 59 games with only 28 penalty minutes.
As for the incoming freshman forwards, all four are highly touted…and one a little moreso because of his name.
First is Roberts Blugers. Originally from Riga Latvia, Roberts came up in the American system via Shattuck St. Marys before moving into the NAHL with Fairbanks, playing 110 games for the Ice Dogs, and scoring 80. He did spend a season as an Assistant Captain with the Madison Capitals, playing in 62 games but only getting 17 points. All throughout he has represented his home country in various international tournaments, getting a silver medal in the U20 WJC in ‘17-18.
Mike: Laker fans may remember his brother Teddy at Minnesota State. He had 108 points in his time with the Mavericks and was a regular terror in Mike Hastings’ lineup. Last season, he appeared in 28 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins, collecting 10 points.
Dennis: Next is Frenchman Louis Boudon, from Grenoble, France. Louis played on the U18 & U22 teams of VIllard-de-Lans club, wearing both the Captain’s ‘C’ and ‘A’ at various times (fun fact: former Laker assistant coach Rich Metro both played & coached Villard-de-Lans main team, earning them a France2 championship in 2001-2002 and the French Cup in 2002-2003 as a player). Coming to North America he started his career by dominating in the NA3HL, playing 46 games and totalling 81 points and earning him a place on the All-Tournament team, the first all-star team and the league’s MVP. He moved onto the NAHL, playing for the Northeast Generals, playing a total of 108 games and scoring 119 points. Louis has also represented France in various WJC and international tournaments.
Dustin Manz is a bit more local, coming from Vanderbilt, Michigan. He spent a few years playing for Little Caesars in the UPHL before moving into the NAHL, playing for the Aston Rebels alongside current LSSU goalie Mareks Mitens. He did alright, appearing in 56 and getting 16. But like a number of players, playing the last two years in the BCHL for Prince George seemed to light a fire. In 2017-18, appearing in 58 games he netted a total of 43 points. The next season, in 28 games Manz scored a total of 70 & helping his team to a championship.
Mike: Manz is down the road a bit from my hometown of Cheboygan. Many Lake State students drive past Vanderbilt on their way up to the Soo from downstate and know just how small of a town it is. I cannot confirm it, but Manz may be the first DI athlete to come out of Vanderbilt.
Dennis: Finally, a name that may be familiar with many: Niko Esposito-Selivanov. Yes, that Esposito and that Selivanov. His grandfather is none other than former Boston Bruin & New York Ranger legend, and 2 time Stanley Cup winner Phil Esposito, who is actually a native of the Canadian Sault. His father, Alexander, was a late round pick for the Philadelphia Flyers in 1994, but wouldn’t see play with them in the NHL. He would be a regular with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Edmonton Oilers and Columbus Blue Jackets. He would make a name for himself, moreso however, in Europe. But this is all unneeded pressure for Niko. He has come up through the Shattuck system also before playing a season in the USHL with both Sioux City and Waterloo…both of which are largely forgettable. Last season he was out in the BCHL playing for Cowichan Valley, playing 50 games and scoring 41. Hopefully last year boosted his confidence, or maybe he can tap into whatever runs in his family since the Lakers are going to need it going forward.
Mike: Going into last season, the biggest question mark for the Lakers was on the blue line. They had lost four players to graduation and, with a couple of exceptions, had less collegiate experience to lean on than desired. Thankfully, that wound up being a non-issue.
Steven Ruggiero has graduated, but he is the only loss on the back end. Collin Saccoman (who will wear the other ‘C’) and his shot blocking prowess return for one more year. Juniors Lukas Kälble, Will Reidell and Tyler Anderson all saw much improvement with another year under their belts. Also returning are Alec Semandel, who cut his teeth in 17 games last year, and Jacob Nordqvist, the only freshman to appear in all 38 games last year.
Dennis: What Damon & co have on the blueline is certainly interesting. Of the 10 players currently on the roster, four have not played a single game for the Lakers, and only two of them are freshmen. Kaeble and Saccoman are both looking to be our top players, since even though Riedell and Anderson saw some early improvement last season, their play still leaves something to be desired, but hopefully they will prove me wrong. I’ll be glad for it. Nordqvist was a solid player for us, and is 100% earning a regular spot. But what about that final spot?
Alec Semandel is the only other returning player who has seen the ice. While he didn’t look great, he seemed to have the skill to play. What he did over the summer will make a big influence this season.
Both Mitchel Oliver and Bennet Vida are returning players who have not seen the ice outside of a scrimmage or exhibition game. The little we saw of Vida during the game against the USNTDP his freshman year made him look interesting to me, but that was really the last we saw of him.
Assuming it’s not Oliver or Vida, that leaves our two freshmen: Michael Mannara or Arvid Henrikson. Without tape, it’s hard to judge defensemen on a statline, but from what I can tell from Eliteprosects, Mannara looks to be a scrappier sort of player who is solid as assisting on goals when he’s not in the box.
Henrikson, on the other hand, is actually a Montreal Canadiens 7th round draft pick. And he’s big, listed as 6’5, 212lbs. Like Mannara, it looks like he can put up some points, his +/- is also actually listed, and overall is a positive player through his career. But this will only be his second year in North America, so hopefully he’s become comfortable after only 39 games between the USHL and NAHL.
If I had to venture a guess at early season pairings, it would ideally be something like this (ignore sides, etc):
Mike: Graduated from last year’s squad is Nick Kossoff. While he played in tandem with Mareks Mitens in 2017-18, Kossoff took the reigns on the starter position last season and did well with it, posting a 2.42 goals against average an a .918 save percentage. He also etched his name in the Laker Hockey record book with his 63 save performance against Denver in October, 2017.
Mitens started 11 games last year, posting a slightly better 2.31 GAA and .919 SV%. Granted, he had a smaller sample size to work with, but could be thrust into any game situation. He was the only goaltender in the nation who collected a win in Mankato.
One thing both goaltenders could look forward to last season was the improved offense. In Whitten’s first two seasons at Lake State, his teams averaged under 2 goals per game. Not surprisingly, this put great pressure on goalies Kossoff and Gordie Defiel to play near-perfect games. The past few seasons, there has been a bit more breathing room for the netminders (especially with the 3.24 goals per game average last year), taking away the notion that they needed to steal victories.
Dennis: I mean, there’s really not much to say here, right? We have three goaltenders: Mareks Mitens, Roman Gengert and newcomer Seth Eisele. While it’s not a cut and dry situation, I think the #1 spot is Mitens’ to lose.
Being a junior, I’m sure Roman is getting anxious to play, but Eisele has a pretty good resume behind him. While playing for the Wenatchee Wild in the BCHL, he played a total of 34 games, with a 2.64 goals against average and a .887 save percentage in the regular season, he helped his team to win a championship & be named to the all-rookie team. He would move into the NAHL after 3 games with the Surrey Eagles, playing for the Lone Star Brahmas. Playing in 33 games, posting a 2.28 GAA and a .928 Save % in the regular season, he would be named the NAHL (south) Goaltender of the year and named to the All-South division team.
Unless one of either Bengert or Eisele really shine, I think we will see Mitens in the starting role, with probably Bengert as the main backup, at least to start the season. As practices roll along, however, I would not be shocked to see Eisele in that role.
Dennis: Overall, I think the schedule is a solid one for the Lakers. They will have to win often to start the year, going up against non-conference opponents for the first month, two of them on the road before starting up WCHA play against Ferris here in the Sault. We got the lucky draw this season, only having to take one trip the 49th state, playing Anchorage & Fairbanks back-to-back in January. We do, however, have to take the trip to Houghton to play tech during their Winter Carnival. It’s certainly not an easy environment to play in regularly, but that weekend will be downright toxic.
Mike: Non conference play sees Lake Superior hosting Merrimack and Denver to start the season, and road trips to Michigan and Notre Dame in October, plus the Catamount Cup against Providence and Vermont after Christmas.
Merrimack still has intrigue with former Laker head coach Scott Borek at the helm. His Warriors finished last in Hockey East last year. They have been down for a while and are probably a few years away from competing.
Denver made yet another trip to the Frozen Four last season, falling to Massachusetts. They will be one of the favourites to contend in their conference as well as on the national scene. David Carle will enter his second season at the helm of the Pioneers, with assistant Dallas Furgeson. Furgeson was coach of Alaska for 9 seasons before taking a job in the WHL.
The Wolverines made the trip up to the Soo last season. In the days of the “2 for 1 deal” that schools like Lake Superior seem to be stuck with, this is not a return trip. The Lakers went to Ann Arbor in 2016, picking up a split. Mel Pearson’s bunch fell short of expectations, so it awaits to be seen what happens with them.
Notre Dame appears on the Lakers’ schedule for the first time since the Florida College Hockey Classic in which Lake Superior defeated Jeff Jackson and the Irish to claim the championship. That squad has not been to Sault Ste. Marie since the dissolution of the CCHA, which is too bad.
There is also the matter of a home game against Alabama Huntsville being played in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario at the home of the Soo Greyhounds. There will be more to come on this as we get closer to February.
Dennis: I’m not quite sure on this one. Last year’s preview seemed much more upbeat, a bit more clean-cut when it came to looking at the roster and such, but this year feels more like a mixed bag. I certainly don’t think it will be as flashy as last year’s run, but we also aren’t defending our GLI title, instead it’s back out to Burlington, VT for the Catamount Cup, which would be nice to bring home too. I certainly think we have some hidden potential waiting in the rafters, and I can only hope that the coaching staff will use those weapons effectively. This team is gritty and has heart, and this town has been behind this team for a long time. I think it’s time to make it out of the first round.
Mike: On the national level, there is doubt that the Lakers will do what they did last year. Within the league, there is doubt that the Lakers will do what they did last year. It’s easy to look at what the team lost and question if they can replace that. Perhaps it takes a homer point of view to have that “gut feeling” that they will finish in the top half of the league. It will take incredible effort from all involved, but it can be done. After all, Minnesota State loses immense amounts of talent season after season, yet remain the class of the WCHA. With them, it’s no longer a question of will they reload.
There are a lot of people online talking about how the
Minnesota State-Mankato Mavericks could very well go on to win the whole NCAA
tournament. Being behind only St. Cloud State in the USCHO poll & #3 behind
St. Cloud State and UMass in the Pairwise this is to be expected. After seeing
how they played this year, the point would be hard to argue. Against the
upstart Lake State team, the Purple Bulls are 3-1…but remember, that 1 loss was
at the Verizon Wireless Center.
The junior trio of forwards Marc Michaelis, Parker Tuomie
and Charlie Gerard lead the Mavs in scoring. Michaelis leads the pack with
19-20-39, Turomie with 14-23-37 and Gerard has 10-17-27 total points. Dallas
Gerads has the third most goals with 12, and 21 total points.
Dryden McKay is the outstanding freshman goaltender for
Minnesota State. He has played in 30 of their 38 games and has posted a 21-6-2
record. Outgoing senior Mathias Israelsson has played in 10 games, with an
8-1-0 record. McKay has posted a 1.72 GAA and a .928 Save%.
There doesn’t seem to be many holes in their armor, so the
Lakers will be in for a tough one.
First Playoff Series
Win Propel Lakers
It has been a long time since the Lakers have won a playoff
series, let alone one at home. But with a pair of 3-1 wins against the Bemidji
State Beavers, the Lakers travel once again to Mankato, the site of many losses
for the Lakers. But again, the Lakers beat them in their own arena once this
year, and forced a game three against them in a previous playoff series.
still leads the team with 24 goals, 16t assists for 40 total points on the
season. He remains only a single point off of the century mark, and is one goal
ahead of ASU’s Johnny Walker and NMU’s Troy Loggins for the most goals in NCAA
behind him still are fellow senior Anthony Nellis (15-18-33) and junior Max Humitz
(16-16-32). Humitz is poised to hit the 100 point mark next season, if he
chooses to return. As of right now, going into this series he has 80 points. His
lowest point total was last year with 23 points.
Unless something radical happens, I believe that for the
rest of the WCHA playoffs with feature senior goaltender Nick Kossoff will have
the net. Playing in 25 games, he has posted 17 wins, 6 losses and 2 ties
alongside a 2.45 GAA and a .917 Save%. If the series goes three games, you may
There’s a lot that can happen this weekend. Please refer to
the previous post for some of the highlights of the year if things go south. I’m
certainly hoping this won’t be my final preview.
First, let me congratulate all the teams that made it to the
WCHA tournament this year, from top to bottom. As for Ferris & Anchorage:
Better luck next year.
The Beavers from Bemidji has certainly had some interesting
series this year: Starting the year at #13 North Dakota and taking the first
game of the series, to splitting with Northern Michigan to start a 4-game
streak, sweeping Anchorage in the process and taking one against Merrimack.
Then: A four game losing skid, starting with Merrimack, heading into a series
against #2 St. Cloud State, before splitting with #3 Minnesota State. After this
start, we would see them splitting most series.
Going into the post season, they are led in scoring by
senior defenseman & co-captain Justin Baudry, with 8-22-30pts. Following
him are two forwards: sophomore Charlie Combs (11-10-21) and junior Adam Brady
(8-13-21). In addition to Combs, Aaron Miller and Owen Sillinger round out the
top 3 goal scorers.
Their goaltending situation is similar to that of the
Lakers: Zach Driscoll has been the go-to, with the freshman netminder playing
in 25 games & posting a 10-9-4 record with a 2.296 GAA and a .910 Save %.
Henry Johnson, a sophomore, has played 14 games, with an overall record of
5-5-2, with a 1.96 GAA and a .916 Save %. Jack Burgart has a single start &
posted a loss in that contest.
These two teams have met once before this season, on January
25th & 26th, with the Beavers losing Friday night
before winning 5-3 Saturday.
Lakers Face Familiar
Foes in Familiar Waters
Well, Laker fans, what a turnaround this series has been,
The fans at the Taffy Abel Arena were able to thank the outgoing
seniors and wish them off, in what would be their final regular season game…and
for the first time in a long time, not their final home game of the year. The
Lakers would go to split the weekend, and Senior Night was ruined with the loss
Your top scorers and goal-getters are of no surprise: They’ve
been the ones we’ve been talking about all season. Co-Captain Diego Cuglietta
leads the pack with 23-14-37pts and is currently only 4 points off the century
mark. Following him is fellow Senior & Assistant Captain Anthony Nellis,
with 14-17-31pts and Max Humitz with 14-16-30pts. Everyone wants to see Diego
hit that mark, but I hope the team does not try to feed him this weekend: winning
is much more important than an individual record.
Kossoff, again, owns the net. Playing in 23 contests, the
senior netminder has a 15-6-2 record, with a 2.53 GAA and a .913 Save %. Sophomore
Mareks Mittens did not play last weekend, so his 11 games & 6-5-0 record
and 2.31 GAA and .919 Save % remain unchanged.
The Lakers will have to play much better than they did the
last time they saw Bemidji, and better than we saw for most of Saturday night’s
game last week. They also cannot take any stupid penalties; the Beavers are too
good of a team to give them any help. Note: The winner of this series will go
on to face the winner of the Minnesota State-Alabama-Huntsville series.
Win or lose this weekend, we as fans should be proud of the
team, it’s been full of fun little tidbits & records: with 23 goals, Diego has
the most goals of any Laker since Joe Blaznek & Jason Sessa had 22 back in
1996-1997 season. Only one player since has even reached 20: Domenic Monardo. Staying
with Diego, he is tied for first in most goals in NCAA with Arizona State’s
Johnny Walker, & finally he is a Hobey Baker nominee.
With 21 wins on the season, Damon Whitten ties Jim Roque for
the most wins in the regular season since Jeff Jackson left the school. Roque
did it in 2006-2007, and Jackson posted 30 wins in his final season in
For the first time in program history, the Lakers took home
a Great Lakes Invitational win.
They have been ranked every week since January 7th.
The Lakers have had 17 players be named for either Player of
the Week or Player on the month between all categories:
The puck drops at 7:07pm Friday and Saturday nights. If a
third game is needed, it will be played at 4:07pm Sunday. Tickets are now
available at the box office or online. If you are in the area, or can make to
the arena, I implore you to, our boys will need all that energy. If you cannot
make it, or are too far away, turn your dials to 99.5 YESfm, or online at yesfm.net,
or use the Tunein App to listen to the game. Or you can watch the game online
for a fee using FloHockey.tv, which is the official source to view every WCHA
Ferris: What happened? Who did this to you? It was only a
few years ago that you guys were a nWCHA powerhouse that rocked our world on
the regular, and now you’re fighting for a playoff spot? On the outside looking
in, Ferris State need some miracles to happen if they want to make the playoffs.
First: They need to not lose more than 1 point on the weekend, and
Alabama-Huntsville can’t get more than one point (maybe…not sure on the
They are led in scoring by a pair of defensemen: Freshman
Cooper Zech (8-20-28) and Junior Nate Kallen (7-16-23). Rounding out the top three
is Senior forward Corey Mackin (7-15-22). Zech also leads the team in +/- with
In net, expect to see #30, Freshman Roni Salmenkangas, who
has appeared in 26 games with a 3.28 GAA and a .886 Save%. Backup goaltender is
Junior Justin Kapelmaster, with a 3.52 GAA and a .903 Save% in 12 games.
After being swept last weekend by their U.P Rivals, the Northern
Michigan University Wildcats, the Lakers look to rebound and maintain home ice
going into the playoffs. As it stands now, if LSSU can win at least one game,
and Bemidji gets only two on Friday, the Lakers will secure home ice to start
the playoffs (as long LSSU wins the tiebreaker, which I think we do). The Lakers
could get as high as second place in the WCHA, but with Bowling Green facing
off against Alabama-Huntsville, that seems unlikely.
(tl;dr: Root for Alabama, Minnesota State & Michigan
Tech..assuming we go to sweep the weekend that is)
Seeing as this is also Senior Weekend for our outgoing
seniors, it seems fitting that two of them are on top of the scoring list,
those being Diego Cuglietta (20-14-34) and Anthony Nellis(14-16-30), with Junior
Max Humitz(14-16-30) bringing up third. Diego had a bit of a slump last
weekend, not getting any points against the Wildcats, so he is still 7 points
out of being a 100 point scorer. Luckily, he’ll have at least 4 more games to get
The last few weeks have seen a goalie rotation. I would
expect to see Senior Nick Kossoff out there at least Saturday night, for Senior
Night, but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if he played the whole weekend. At
this point in the year, both Kossoff and Mitens have similar Save %, but Mitens
eeks ou ta slightly better GAA (but that is to be expected).
Rounding out our seniors this year is Steven Ruggerio, former US Gold Medalist for World Juniors, Providence Friar and current Anaheim Ducks draft pick. He has totaled 10 points thus far for the Lakers, and also leads the team in penalties, with 32 total penalties for 64 minutes.
And I can’t forget about Gage Torrel, though when the original article went up, I did. Right out of the gate anyone could see Gage was going to be something special for this team, and he was. Gage, Diego and Anthony were all on track to potentially get to that 100 point mark this season, but after being snakebitten for most of last season, Gage slowly fell out of that race, though he has posted an impressive 24 points this season.
Senior Night is always hard. Having watched most of these
guys over the last four years, it can be hard to say goodbye, especially this
year’s batch with and the talent that is leaving this team. Each and every one
deserves the applause they’ll get during the ceremonies. Most years it is
bitter sweet, however. Either because the team missed the playoffs, or because they’re
headed to Mankato where we hadn’t won at, ever.
But this year is different. This year hope is in the air. We
are looking to have home ice for the first time in years, and it feels like we can
win a round too. We have a win against every
team in the WCHA, so that locker room knows they can beat anybody. If I
dare peek ahead, playoff wins also count towards Pairwise, so there’s still an
outside shot that the Laker could make their first NCAA appearance in over 20
years even without a playoff championship, seeing as they are still #20 in the Pairwise.
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, as we have to take each weekend
one night a time – it just feels good to be optimistic.
As always, the puck drops at 7:07pm both Friday and Saturday nights. Senior night will also be held Saturday before the game. 99.5 YesFM will carry the game locally, as will their stream on Yesfm.net, or through the TuneIn App. Flohockey.tv is your source for WCHA hockey this season, so those of you who can’t make it to the arena can watch the game live there.
Updated: Senior night celebrations are before the game Saturday night. Also included Gage Torrel as part of the senior crew since I somehow missed him last night.
I think if you asked any Laker or Husky fan this time last season, who would be ranked higher in the pairwise, or USCHO polls, I don’t think many would’ve answered the Lakers. Yet here we are: with three weeks left to go in the season, the Lakers are ranked #19 in both the USCHO and Pairwise rankings, whereas Michigan Tech sits unranked in the poll, and #42 in the Pairwise.
That’s not to say that Michigan Tech is a bad team. In fact, they’ve played against a number of ranked opponents, and split against #14 Wisconsin & #10 Bowling Green. Senior Jake Lucchini continues to be a driving force for the Huskies, scoring 7 goals, 15 assists for 22 points. Behind him are Sophomore defenseman Seamus Donohue with 1 goal, 16 assists & 17 points and Brian Halonen, freshman, with 9 goals, 7 assists and 16 points.
They’ve certainly spread some love around the net this season. Junior Matt Jurusik has 15 games under his belt this year, going 7-5-2, whereas sophomore Robbie Beydoun has played in 12 contests and going 4-6-1. Devin Kero, the senior statesman, has only played in 6 games, going 1-3-1. It was Robbie Beydoun who was in net the only time these two teams have faced each other this season: in the GLI championship game where he allowed 4 goals (a fifth came with an empty net). to Nick Kossoff’s 3.
My belief is that they will split the net again this weekend, unless whomever starts Friday just knocks it out of the park. My gut is also telling me that we will be seeing Beydoun Friday night for two reasons: 1) He’s already played against this Laker team this season and 2) To give him some redemption.
Lakers Gear up for Playoffs…and what comes next
Well…this season has certainly been interesting. Sure, I was hoping the Lakers were going to have a good season, but there were a lot of question marks concerning some of the incoming players & the kind of impact they were going to have on the team. For those who’ve had any amount of ice time, their impact has.been.felt. That’s not even taking into account the returning players who’ve really came out swinging. At this point, I would love to wax poetic, but I think I’ll save that for the post-season coverage.
The focus this weekend are the Michigan Tech Huskies. Since realignment Michigan Tech has had the Laker’s number, and their more outspoken fans will do everything to make sure you know that. But this season feels like a turning point in the rivalry, what with winning the Great Lakes Invitational.
This preview wouldn’t be as positive if it wasn’t for the hard work of these players. LSSU has three point-a-game players: In seniors & Hobey Baker candidates Diego Cuglietta (18-13-31 in 28 GP) and Anthony Nellis (14-15-29 in 28GP) and Junior Max Humitz (12-15-27 in 26GP).
Nick Kossoff has owned the Laker’s net for most of the season, having gone 13-4-2 in 19 games played. Mareks Mitens has appeared In 9 games, having gone 5-4-0 and Roman Bengert was put in for part of a period to give him a little bit of time in net, but has gone down with a 0-0-0 record.
The Lakers will have to find a way to win not only Friday night, but also Saturday night, which they have not done at home this season, if they want to gain some ground in the Pairwise. Of course, they’ll need the teams surrounding them to lose, but in order to get into the top 16 our boys in blue are going to have to play lights out hockey over these last three weeks of the regular season.
The puck drops both nights ay 7:07pm at the Taffy Able Arena here in Sault Sainte Marie. The game can be heard locally on 99.5 YESFm, or for those not in the area, Bill Crawford will have the play by play on the YESFM stream, or on the TuneIn app. If you care to watch the game, but not in the arena, it will be shown on FloHockey for a fee. Saturday is also Check.Slash.Survive, the rebranded Pink in the Rink, so please stop by the arena and help support that initiative, even if you are unable to attend the game.
What a season it has been for the Ferris State Bulldogs. Head coach of the Bulldogs is now in his 27th season with the school and has an overall record of 444-466-101. During his tenure, they’ve had some massive success: making a tournament appearance in 2003, 2012, 2014 & 2016, winning the WCHA tournament in 2016, winning regular season titles in 2002-2003, 2011-12 and 2013-14. Heck, in 2012 they made their lone Frozen Four appearance. You wouldn’t know that if you asked the fanbase how they feel, or by looking at the standings, as they are now 7 points out of the playoffs, sitting above Alaska Anchorage.
With this in mind, they did shut out #9 Bowling Green last Saturday 3-0 after shutout Friday night 2-0. Despite all the above doom and gloom, they do have a bright light on their team, and that’s Freshman Defenseman Cooper Zech, who is tied at #7 in scoring in the conference, alongside LSSU’s own Max Humitz and Jared Spooner, all with 23 points. Another Defenseman, Junior Nate Kallen is second in scoring and senior forward Corey Mackin make up the top 3 Ferris State scorers.
Roni Salmenkangas is the go-to goaltender for the Bulldogs, having played in 20 games, but he does hold a 3.69 Goals Against Average and a .878 Save %. Justin Kapelmaster, a junior, is their backup, playing in 9 games and holding a 2.94 GAA and a .923 Save %.
Whitten’s Wonderful Traveling Circus
This team feels like a mystery wrapped in an enigma this season. They’ve won 12 games on the road (counting the GLI), and have lost 2. At home, in 6 series (12 games), the Lakers have won 4 games, all of them on Friday. This brings up a lot of questions, but that’s probably for another article.
After last weekend’s set of games, Diego Cuglietta is still a point-a-game scorer, with 26 points in 26 games. Close behind him are Anthony Nellis and Max Humitz. Now, Max Humitz has been on one hell of a scoring streak since the Great Lakes Invitational, being within one goal of a hat trick at least twice since the tournament.
The goaltending situation is still a bit muddled. Nick Kossoff had an amazing game last Friday night, but would probably want to forget his performance Saturday night (though, the rest of the team may follow suit). We’ll see if Whitten & Co will split the net this weekend, but I expect Nick to start at least Friday night.
Puck drops at 7:07 at the Robert L. Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids both Friday and Saturday nights, for those who are travelling to the game or who are in the area. Bill Crawford will have the call on 99.5 YESFm, or through YESFM streaming online on their website or on TuneIn. You can also watch the game through Flohockey.tv. For those in the Sault this weekend, the school will be hosting a viewing party Friday night at Buffalo Wild Wings.
After an on-and-off start to the season, the Beavers of Bemidji has strung some big-time wins together, having split their weekend series at Bowling Green and sweeping Michigan Tech outside on Lake Bemidji last weekend, albeit with some extra time Friday night.
In an interesting turn, the Beavers are led in scoring by senior defenseman Justin Baudry with 19 points, though their leading goal scorers are a pair of sophomore forwards Aaron Miller (10g) and Charlie Combs (9g) .
Freshman Zach Driscoll and sophomore Henry Johnson seemed to have split more weekends, with Driscoll starting 15 games, and Johnson starting 13. GAA and Save % are nearly identical, though the freshman does have 2 more wins.
Lakers Leaning Towards the Light
With 10 series left before the post season, the Lakers have positioned themselves to be in the final spot for home ice this season. They have the tie breaker, as of now, on Michigan Tech, and are only a point ahead of their opponents this weekend. Through the USCHO poll, the Lakers are ranked #18, however through the Pairwise rankings, they are at #20. They’ll need to start a good run this weekend in order to break into the top 15, and a chance at an at-large bid.
Our top three scorers are the same as they’ve been for a while – led by captain Diego Cuglietta (17-7-24), Anthony Nellis (11-12-23) and Max Humitz (9-12-21). Diego is officially a point-a-game player, with Nellis being 1 point behind that mark, the same with Humitz going into the weekend.
The goaltending will be the story in the later half of the year. Nick Kosshoff has played in 16 games, with a record of 11-3-2, and Mareks Mitens following him with 8 games played and a 4-4-0 record, with all 4 of the wins being shutouts. This includes last weekend where Mareks made 29 saves. While I don’t think Nick has lost his net, I think Mareks is certainly lighting the fire – hopefully a bit of competition is a good thing.
Friday night, the Lakers will also try to battle domestic violence, providing a free t-shirt to the first 1000 fans so they can white-out the arena, so do try to come out to the arena this weekend to support your Lakers. However, if you can’t, it will be on over the air on 99.5 YESFm, streaming through Yesfm.net or through the TuneIn app. Flohockey.tv will have the video feed of the game.
So, we meet again, Mankato. Since the realignment, the Mavericks have had the Lakers number. Of course, Lake State hopes that changes this weekend, but looking at Minnesota State’s record of 18-5-1, and a perfect 11-0-0 at home, that this weekend will be another battle.
Surprisingly, the Maverick’s top scorers are either juniors or sophomores. Junior forwards Marc Michaelis and Parker Tuomie top this list, with 26 and 22 points respectively, followed by sophomore forward Jared Spooner at 21 points.
In net, Freshman Dryden McKay has won the starting role, having played in 17 games with a 11-4-1 record, 2.05 GAA and a .919 Save %. Behind him is senior Mathias Israelsson who has played in 9 games this season, 7-1-0 record, with 1.74 GAA and a .908 Save%.
On a side note, they’ve out of the 12 series they’ve played as part of the regular season, half of them have been against ranked opponents (Ferris x2, Bemidji, UAA, Michigan Tech and Alaska were unranked). They dropped 1 game against any of those opponents, Saturday night at Bemidji. The only series they were swept in was against the then #12 Bowling Green in December. They also lost against Minnesota Duluth and tied against Arizona State at the Desert Hockey Classic, and then #16 North Dakota early in the season.
Blue Bombshells Bombast the Best
Minnesota State-Mankato: The real test to any season. This season, however, having been ranked on and off throughout the season, becoming the new GLI champions, and being on a 8-game unbeaten streak, Mankato will be the ultimate gut check. Remember: Six of those wins came from opponents #52 or lower in the pairwise. The other two are #30 Michigan State and #31 Michigan Tech.
The top point getters stay the same, except Max Humitz breaks into the top. Diego Cuglietta and Anthony Nellis lead with 23 and 22 points respectively, with Humitz bringing up the rear at 19. Both Cuglietta and Nellis have also been nominated for the Hobey Baker Award – you can vote for them here (https://www.hobeybaker.com/vote) , and they also have a shot at breaking 100 points, though by my math, Humitz should be the next 100 point scorer next season.
Puck drops at 7:07pm CST, so 8:07 pm both Friday and Saturday nights in Mankato. Locally it can be heard on 99.5 YESFm, or on it’s website stream or on Tunein. You can see the game on FloHockey.tv for a nominal fee.
Going into this weekend, the Chargers of Alabama-Huntsville are only two points above Ferris State for the final playoff spot. But despite their record, they do have two wins against some pretty good teams: Michigan Tech and Bemidji State. They also forced overtime last Saturday against Ferris to take an extra point.
The Chargers are led by two 8 point scorers, forwards Christian Rajic and Jesper Ohrvall, but almost all of their points are from assists. Jack Jeffers, Bauer Neudecker and Austin Beaulieu are the top goal-getters, with 5, 4, 4 respectively.
They’ve been riding sophomore goaltender Mark Sinclair this year, playing 14 games compared to senior Jake Theut’s 8 games. However, they both have 2 wins each, and nearly the same save percentage, with Sinclair having a .918 and Theut with a .917.
Lakers Looking For a Third Weekend Sweep
It’s certainly been an interesting season for the Lakers. On the road, they are almost perfect with 9-1, 2-0 at neutral sites, but are only 2-5-1 at home. They hope to make that 4-5-1 this weekend.
They are led by two 21 point scorers, seniors Diego Cuglietta and Anthony Nellis. Lukas Kaelble follows up in third with 16 points, 15 of them being assists. We’re of course hoping for the return of Max Humitz, but I personally hope that he takes all the time he needs to properly grieve, so he can come back 100%.
On the backend, Nick Kossoff has all but won the starting spot in net, having won 10 of the 13 games he’s started in. Sophomore Mareks Mitens is just on the wrong side of .500, winning 3 of the 7 games he started. Despite the way Kossoff has played, I would not be surprised if the coaching staff try to get Mitens some ice time this weekend.
The puck drops both nights ay 7:07pm at the Taffy Able Arena here in Sault Sainte Marie. The game can be heard locally on 99.5 YESFm, or for those not in the area, Bill Crawford will have the play by play on the YESFM stream, or on the TuneIn app. If you care to watch the game, but not in the arena, it will be shown on FloHockey for a fee.