Category: Series Previews

Series Preview: Lake Superior State @ Ferris State

Ferris State: 2016: 13-19-5 2017: 12-21-1

Lake Superior State: 2016: 11-18-7 2017: 10-20-4

 

“It’s the Final Countdown!” – Europe

 

This is it, boys and girls. We’re in the final week of the 2017-2018 WCHA regular season, and it all comes down to this. While there are other games to watch, these two teams control their own playoff destinies.

The Bulldogs had a rough weekend, facing off against #5 Minnesota State in Mankato, dropping both games – Friday 7-1, then Saturday 4-2.

This year’s Ferris State team has three 20+ point scorers in Corey Mackin (8-14-22), Mitch Maloney (13-8-21) and Ryker Kilins (8-13-21), with Kilins being the lone defenseman of the group. In net, the two goaltenders, Darren Smith (junior) and Justin Kapelmaster (sophomore) have split time in the next 20 games to 17 and they have similar stats to each other, so once again we have a team with competent goaltenders.

I, for one, believe this Bulldog team is better than what they’ve been this year, so the Laker cannot sleep on this team.

“Do-do-do do dooooo” – also Europe

If you would have told us, or any other Laker fan at the end of December through January that the Lakers would be fighting for a playoff spot, we would have laughed at you, after going through a large losing streak that involved a few shutouts and poor overall play. The last two weeks they have been in action (before the bye last week), has put their fate in their hands.

As stated in Mike’s article from last weekend, the bottom four teams are only separated by three points, with both UAH and Alaska being tied at 30 points, Ferris at 28, and the Lakers out of the picture at 27. Alaska plays in-state rivals Anchorage who has already been elimated from the playoffs, while Huntsville faces off against Bowling Green.

So, what does this mean? It means that even if the Lakers split the weekend in Big Rapids, there is a chance they make the playoffs. Getting at least 4 points on the weekend is what we really have to hope for, as that will put us past either Alaska or Huntsville, assuming one gets swept. A sweep on the weekend would guarantee at least the final playoff spot, with a potential to get a better matchup.

It’s possible that the Lakers will know their playoff fates at the end of the game Saturday, but it could come down to the Alaska series, which you can almost guarantee they will be listening to on the 5+ hour drive back to the Soo.

The Lakers have been scoring by committee these last few weeks, but of course are still led by senior J.T Henke, who has 27 points on the season, followed by Max Humitz (13-9-22) and Diego Cuglietta (7-15-22). Despite the lack of point production, coming onto the team late in the season, Alexandro Ambrosio, Yuki Miura and Steven Ruggiero have seemed to give this team more depth, speed and hope.

Statistically speaking, Nick Kossoff is still the clear-cut better goalie on this Laker team, but again over the last couple of weekends, former NAHL standout goalie Mareks Mitens has started to close that gap and assuming both goalies stay with the team come the offseason, I fully expect to see either a true goalie tandem, or a really fun fight for that starter slot.

Despite all of this, nothing is guaranteed this weekend. The Lakers have only won a single game cleanly at Ewigleben Arena since the 2009 season and recording a shootout win during this time frame too. But if there a time to rewrite that narrative, it’s this weekend.

As usual, YESFm will have the game locally at 99.5 or online at www.yesfm.net, or through the TuneIn app on your smartphone. WCHA.tv will have a live video feed of the game if you want to watch first hand.

Series Preview: Lake Superior State @ Alaska Anchorage

 

Alaska Anchorage 2016: 7-21-6 2017: 2-22-4
Lake Superior State 2016: 11-18-7 2017: 8-20-4

Pairwise #57 meets #60
To say it’s been a disappointing season for these two clubs would be an understatement, and neither had much to build off of from the end of last season.

The Seawolves of Alaska Anchorage ended last season with 7 wins on the season, but have only won two contests this season – one coming from Lake Superior State and the other from Alabama-Huntsville, though to their credit they’ve also won three games in the shootout and somehow managed to tie North Dakota, then ranked #7 at the Ralph.

It’s not hard to see why when looking at the stat sheet. They’re led in scoring by senior forward Austin Azurdia, who has 11-5-16 in 23 games this season. Following him you have (A)Tad Kozun, another senior forward with 5-8-13 in 27 games.

In net you have the outstanding Olivier Mantha, now a senior he has played in all but 151 minutes, but has a 3.58 GAA and a .900 Save %. I say outstanding since, despite the team he has in front of him, he has played fairly well, peaking at a .913 Save % and a 2.82 GAA last season. He’s been the backbone of these Seawolves, having played in 118 games and totaling 6730:51 minutes in his career going into the final weeks of the season. He is currently #3 in the number of shots he has faced this season with 920 and has had to face 3671 shots so far in his career – it’s not wonder some of the scores get run up with nobody playing defense in front of him.

While technically not out of the playoffs, as they could potentially catch up to Ferris State (they are 16 points behind), they’d have to essentially sweep the next three weekends & get a lot of help along the way.

Late Season Lakers Surge Forward

Everybody listening to the Bemidji State homers on the radio last weekend, or anyone following our coverage here at LakerHockeyBlog probably had the same sort of reaction to last weekend’s 4-goal shutout sweep of the Beavers: Excitement with a touch of anger or annoyance.

The Bemidji State Beavers are a good team: they now have a 14-10-6 record, with one of the top goaltenders in the country backing them up, yet this Lake State team, led by forwards J.T Henke (9-16-25), Max Humitz (12-9-21) and Diego Cuglietta (7-14-21), and being backstopped by Nick Kossoff Friday night and Mareks Mitens Saturday night managed to pull off two 2-0 shutout wins, marking both the first sweep of the season, the first conference shutout of the year (they did shut out the USNTDP 6-0 in exhibition play), and also marked the freshman goalie Miten’s first collegiate shutout, facing and turning away 36 shots.

Last weekend should power the Lakers into their final two series of the year: this week against UAA before going on a bye week, then traveling to Big Rapids to potentially fight for the final playoff spot. But what needs to happen to get there?

The first step is that Lake State needs to sweep Alaska Anchorage this weekend in regulation, giving us six points totaling 27 on the season – one behind the Bulldogs. Ferris is off this week, but will face #5 Minnesota State-Mankato next weekend. We have to hope that Mankato does their job and sweep Ferris, leading up to a very interesting Friday night matchup on February 23rd, and potentially a nailbiter on the 24th.

But even if the Lakers miss playoffs this year, having a late season surge in spite of one of their own getting into trouble around town should be a motivating factor going into next season, barring any early departures.

Puck drops in Alaska at 11:07 ET and can be heard locally on 99.5 YesFM or on the web at yesfm.net. As always, you can view the games live on WCHA.tv.

Series Preview: Lake Superior State @ Bemidji State

 

Bemidji State: 2016: 22-16-3 2017: 14-8-6
Lake Superior State: 2016: 11-18-7 2017: 6-20-4

“They might in the future more than ever before engage in hunting beavers.” – Samuel de Champlain
The Bemidji State Beavers are currently holding down the final home playoff spot, coming into the weekend at #4 in the WCHA. The lead Michigan Tech by 5 points and trail Minnesota State by 6. Tech is playing #14 Bowling Green this weekend, so it’s unlikely that the Beavers will lose out on their spot this weekend.
The Beavers are led by 4 20+ point scorers in Kyle Bauman, Gerry Fitzgerald, Jay Dickman and Adam Brady, all of them forwards. In net, Michael Bitzer has only missed a total of 78 minutes this season. In those 1623 minutes in net, he has recoreded a 14-7-6 record, a 2.14 GAA and a .911 Save %. Interestingly enough, he also has an assist this season.
While it’s unlikely that the Beavers move at all in the rankings this week (Minnesota State is playing UAA), they will be looking to win to keep pace with the Mavericks. The last time these two teams met, Lake State was shutout in game 1 and lost 6-3 in game 2.

“Never give up; for even rivers someday wash dams away.” – Arthur Golden
Despite the results, the last three weekends, starting with the Ferris State series, the Lakers seemed to have regained some control and come together to play as a team, save for a few players and a period or two. Saturday night’s game against Ferris gave the Lakers their first conference win in over a month. In the series at Northern Michigan, the Lakers gave the Wildcats a run for their money both nights, losing 3-2 in both games & losing the Cappo Cup.
Last weekend was the most promising of all. The boys in blue did lose Friday night 5-3, mostly due to shaky goaltending to start the game. But on Saturday night, the Lakers took it to the then #15 Bowling Green Falcons, losing only 3-2, though by all accounts the Refs gave that game away, waving off a goal that should have counted.
But we’re not going to dive into the officiating here.
Despite the resurgence of the team, it feels too little too late. As it stands, the Lakers are out of the playoff picture right now, being eight points behind Alaska and only three points ahead of last-ranked Alaska Anchorage. The good news is that the next three weeks will be tough for the Nanooks, taking on Ferris State this weekend, #19 Northern Michigan next week and the Beavers of Bemidji State the weekend of the 15th-16th before finishing up against UAA.
The Lakers need to win and win fast. Outside of this, their fate isn’t in their hands – they will need help from the rest of the league to help secure a playoff spot. I’m not holding my breath, mind you, but it could be a very interesting final month of the season.
Lake State finally has three 20-point scorers in J.T. Henke, Max Humitz and Diego Cuglietta.

Puck drops both Friday and Saturday night games starting at 8:07pm ET or 7:07 CT. They can be heard locally on 99.5 YesFM, online at www.yesfm.net, or on the TuneIn app. For those fans not in the area, or cannot make it to the arena but still want to watch the action, both games will be available on www.WCHA.tv.

Series Preview: #15 Bowling Green @ Lake Superior State -Check.Slash.Survive & Senior Night

 

#15 Bowling Green: 2016: 21-18-2 2017: 14-8-6
Lake Superior State: 2016: 11-18-7 2017: 6-18-4

“The quality of a decision is like the well-time swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim.” – Sun Tzu
This week brings the #15 Bowling Green Falcons to the Taffy Abel Arena for a two game set. The team is led in scoring by defenseman Alec Rauhauser (6-22-27), but it’s the senior forward and captain of the Falcons Mitchell McLain (12-8-20) that leads in goals.
In net, Bowling Green has seemed to go with a full goalie-tandom. Sophomore Ryan Bednard has appeared in 17 games and holds a 7-4-4 record & has a GAA of 2.23 and a .914 Save %. Freshman eric Dop has appeared in 14 games and holds a very similar record at 7-4-2, with a 2.63 GAA and .899 Save %. Most weeks you hope to face off against the backup in at least one game to try and steal points, but not this weekend – both goalies will be tough opponents.
Bowling Green has been riding high since the Great Lakes Invitational, having won that tournament and sweeping two of the three series that has followed since that time, beating both Ferris State in Big Rapids and Alaska Anchorage. They did lose against Northern Michigan, but there aren’t many who haven’t this season.
“The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort for each individual” – Vince Lombardi
Despite the results, the last two weeks has seen a resurgence of the Lakers in terms of effort and how they look out on the ice, which may bode well for coach Damon Whitten who will be looking for an extension at the end of the season, but the effort seems too little too late.
As it stands, the Lakers are currently out of the playoff picture, sitting in at #9 & 7 points being Ferris State, meaning even if they sweep the weekend, and Ferris drops both games against Michigan Tech, we will still be a point out of playoffs going into the final month of the regular season. The decision is largely out of the Lakers hands at this point, as they will need help from the teams above them in addition to winning.
The Lakers are led in scoring by senior J.T Henke (8-16-24) and led in net by junior Nick Kossoff (21GP, 5-10-2), who has a 3.16 GAA and a .907 Save %.

This weekend we will have two events happening, both on Saturday: The first is Check.Slash.Survive, which was previously known as Pink in the Rink. It was changed this season so that would help share awareness for more than just breast cancer. Apparel will be sold at the arena, along with a raffle and silent auction for jerseys that will be worn during the game. For more information on this event, please look for their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages.
The second is the Blueliners annual Senior Night celebration, which will once again be held (sadly) BEFORE Saturday night’s game – between the pre-game warmups and puck drop. This year the club will be recognizing four seniors – the solo forward J.T Henke, and defensemen Kyle Chatam, captain Aiden Wright and assistant captain Ryan Renz.

Puck drops at 7:07pm both nights, and can be heard locally on 99.5 YesFM in the Sault, online at www.yesfm.net , or you can watch online at WCHA.tv

Series Preview: LSSU @ Northern Michigan

 

Northern Michigan: 2016: 13-22-4 2017: 13-10-3

Lake Superior State: 2016: 11-18-7 2017: 6-16-4

 

Cappo Cup Finale for the Cats

After being picked to come in seventh by the preseason polls, the NMU Wildcats are proving haters wrong. After sweeping #14 Bowling Green last weekend, the Cats have already tied their total wins from last year, and currently three points ahead of the Falcons in second place within the WCHA, but are a solid 8 points behind league leaders Minnesota State.

They are led by three upperclassmen forwards, Try Loggins (11-14-25), Adam Rockwood (4-21-25) & Robbie Payne (17-6-23), and being backstopped by the Finnish goaltender Atte Tolvanen, who has posted a 11-5-1 record, with a 2.58 GAA and .907 save %.

The Cats will be on their own ice, which being an Olympic sheet will give them a natural advantage over the Lakers.

Two Wins for the Cup

The Lakers & Wildcats played a home-and-home nonconference series earlier this season, with each team winning on their own ice. Currently the Lakers are behind the Cats with a -1 goal differential if the teams split the weekend, without the Lakers outscoring NMU on the weekend. That’s a steep mountain to climb considering what this team has done in the past few months.

Last weekend being the exception. While the Lakers were shutout Friday night against Ferris State (4-0), the team, to my eyes, played with a bit of spark and teamwork – something we haven’t seen for most of the year. This proved helpful in Saturday nights 5-3 win, where the team won by committee: Each of LSSU’s 5 goals came from a different scorer, and the only player to net more than one assist was Diego Cuglietta.

If the Lakers can use this past weekend as a launching pad for the next few weeks, they stand a chance at getting a place in the playoffs, but regardless of if they win or not, the decision is largely out of their hands.

You can listen to the Voice of the Lakers Bill Crawford locally on 99.5 YesFM. If the audio stream is working, the game can also be heard online at www.yesfm.net, as well as watch the game on WCHA.tv. Puck drops at 7:00pm both nights.

Series Preview – Ferris State University @ Lake Superior State

Ferris State: 2016: 13-19-5 2017: 9-14-1

Lake State: 2016: 11-18-7 2017: 5-15-4

 

“Hey, bulldog, hey man, whats up brother?”

2017 has been a pretty disappointing year for the Ferris State Bulldogs. Currently they hold the final playoff spot for the WCHA with 19 points, ahead of the Lakers by 7 points. In the 2016-2017 campaign they finished just 2 points out of a home playoff berth.

The Bulldogs are led by a trio of upperclassmen in Corey Mackin (6-12-18), Mitch Maloney (12-5-17) and Andrew Doranties (5-10-15) for point scorers. In fact, they are the top three goal scorers, with Maloney & Mackin switching up the order of the list. In this regard, they are much like the Lakers this season, however they have managed to squeak out three more league games this season, putting the final playoff spot out of reach for the Lakers this weekend.

 

Apathy Creeping In

The headline says it all here. The Lakers were outscored, outshot and outplayed all weekend in front of a crowd that totaled 893 on Friday and 803 on Saturday. The Lakers did come out swinging on Saturday night, putting up two goals in just over 4 minutes, but the Bemidji State Beavers took control of the game from there.

So, while there haven’t been many positives to focus on this season, the way they started that game showed some cohesiveness that we haven’t seen in a while, which admittingly was nice. The Lakers need to win this weekend, a sweep is preferred. that would leave them just a single point out of playoffs. But even if they do win, they will need some help getting into the playoff picture properly

Puck drops both Friday & Saturday at 7:07pm. They can be heard locally on 99.5 YesFM, online at  www.yesfm.net, or on the TuneIn app. For those fans not in the area, or cannot make it to the arena but still want to watch the action, both games will be available on www.WCHA.tv.

Series Preview – Bemidji State University @ Lake Superior State

 

Bemidji State: 2016: 22-16-3  2017: 9-6-5

LSSU: 2016-11-18-7 2017: 5-13-4

 

“That beaver eatin’ Taco Bell!” – Primus

This year’s WCHA standings are a bit of a surprise to everyone, arguably for the Bemidji State Beavers more than any other. The reigning MacNaughton Cup winners, and finishing second in the Broadmoor race started off a bit slow this season, getting above .500 in the two weeks before the Christmas break, sweeping both Alaska Anchorage & Alabama-Huntsville.

The Beavers are led by seniors Kyle Bauman and Gerry Fitzgerald as their scoring leaders – both have 20 points going into this weekend. Jay Dickman leads the team in goals, with 11, and also comes in third in overall scoring.

They are backstopped by senior Michael Bitzer, who has played in all but two games for Bemidji, posting a .910 Save % and a 2.26 GAA. If you remember to last season, Bitzer ended the 2016-2017 campaign as the #5 goalie in the nation, posting the most games played, games started & tied for total team games played. He also lead in minutes played, with 1389:26 & won the most games amongst goalies. He was also in a three way tie with total shutouts with 4. He ended the season with a 1.47 GAA and a .938 Save %. BSU will have to have an outstanding second half to allow Bitzer to reach those numbers once again.

 

“…you were never intended to live in the life raft, to drift years on end, in sight of land but never close enough.” – Nick Flynn

While I can’t speak for any other Laker fan, I was hoping that the boys in blue would put up a good showing at the Three Rivers Classic, hosted by Robert Morris University & use it as a launching pad for the rest of the season. Sadly, that did not happen.

The Lakers opened up the weekend against the hosts Robert Morris University Friday night. To say it was disappointing would be a huge understatement. RMU shutout Lake State 5-0, scoring three goals against Mareks Mitens in the first period, and finishing off with two against Nick Kossoff in the second. The Colonials would outshoot the Lakers in the first alone 17-4, ending the night 38-19.

Now while these stats look bad, the tape looks worse. The team left Mitens out there all alone in the first, with a defense even more porous that what we’ve been seeing of late.

While the consolation game against the Arizona State Sun Devils would have a different result, they were largely outplayed – Nick Kossoff would stop 48 of 49 goals, however ASU goalie Ryland Pashovitz would only stop 17 of 20 total shots.

This team needs a change of heart, otherwise they will end the month, which marks their last home game, with playing in an empty arena and no hope for the playoffs. As of right now, the Lakers are on the outside looking in: two games behind both Alaska and Alabama-Huntsville. If they can get on a run, there is a shot at making the playoffs.

But all of that could be for naught if the coaching staff can’t get the locker room back, and from my vantage point, it doesn’t look likely that it will happen, which is a shame as I still maintain that, on paper, this could be the most talented group of players we’ve seen in a while, based off of their previous years with the Lakers, or with their recent Juniors results.

January will be the make it or break it month for Lake State: if they cannot start closing the gap, they will miss the playoffs, and I believe that the tone for this month will be set this weekend against Bemidji. Puck drops both Friday & Saturday at 7:07pm. They can be heard locally on 99.5 YesFM, online at  www.yesfm.net, or on the TuneIn app. For those fans not in the area, or cannot make it to the arena but still want to watch the action, both games will be available on www.WCHA.tv.

Preview – Lakers at Three Rivers Classic

PITTSBURGH – Lake Superior State will participate in its third holiday tournament in four years under head coach Damon Whitten as they take on the Colonials of Robert Morris tonight at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. 

In each of the last two holiday tourneys, the Lakers have played the host in their first game, as they played Cornell in the 2014 Florida College Hockey Classic and Vermont in the 2015 Catamount Cup.  This year is no different, as the Colonials are the host team of the Three Rivers Classic.

About the Colonials

Robert Morris (7-11-1, 7-7-1 Atlantic Hockey) has won the tourney three times since the Classic was established in 2012.  They claimed the inaugural title and have won the last two.

The Colonials have been led by seniors Brady Ferguson (10-13-23) and Michael Louria (9-13-22).  Luke Lynch, a sophomore, has put up 11 goals on the year thus far.  While the team has not had any success in non-conference play, these forwards have not exactly been held in check by their opponents, as each has had at least 3 points against non-conference foes.

On the blueline, Robert Morris does not have much in the way of scoring defense, as Eric Israel (2-9-11) is the only one in double digit points.  

Between the pipes, sophomore Francis Marotte has seen the bulk of the action, as he comes into the tournament 7-7-1 overall, with a 2.87 goals against and a .909 save percentage.  Senior Andrew Pikul has played in four games, sporting a 0-4-0 record, a .881 SV% and a rather husky 4.48 GAA.

Robert Morris comes into the game after the same layoff most college hockey teams have had.  In their last series, the Colonials swept a home-and-home with Mercyhurst, which snapped a four game skid.

The winner of this game will face the winner of the Providence/Arizona State game, which is the early game.  The loser will take on the loser of the first game in the early contest Saturday, while the winners from day one will compete in the nightcap Saturday for the Classic championship.

About the Friars

Providence (10-7-1, 6-4-1 Hockey East) comes in ranked 9th in the country in the USCHO Poll.  The Friars have been ranked in the poll each week since the season began – an impressive feat, especially when considering that Providence has not won more than two games in a row all year and hasn’t even done that since beating UMass and Merrimack on November 11 & 17.

Leading the way for the Friars is Eric Foley (10-11-21), Brian Pinho (6-7-13) and John Wilkins (5-8-13).  In net, Hayden Hawkey (10-7-0, 2.61 GAA, .906 SV%) has seen the majority of the minutes.

The Friars have reportedly seen some roster changes at midseason, as two players have departed, while another has joined.  Jake Ryczek, a defenseman (and Chicago Blackhawks draft pick) and Chase Zieky, a forward, have both departed the program.  Ryczek has moved on to major junior, while Zieky’s fate is unknown.  Meanwhile, Davis Bunz (Central Illinois – USHL) comes in.  It is unclear if he will join the team for the Classic.

About the Sun Devils

Arizona State (4-10-3) has shown improvement over the past few seasons since joining the ranks of DI hockey.  They have played many opponents close this year, including a 4-4 tie of Colorado College in their most recent outing.  The Sun Devils had close losses to a 19th ranked Air Force in October and a split against Alabama-Huntsville (the only WCHA foe faced so far.)

Leading the Sun Devils are Brett Gruber (4-9-13), Tyler Busch (6-5-11) and Brinson Pasichnuk (3-6-9).  Getting the call in goal most nights is Joey Daccord (4-9-4, 3.26 GAA, .911 SV%).

Following the Three Rivers Classic, Arizona State will play host to their own tournament, which will be held in Las Vegas on January 5-6.  The Sun Devils will face Northern Michigan in the first game and either Boston College or Michigan Tech in the second game.

No current WCHA team has played in the championship game.  Last season, Ferris State lost 1-0 to the Colonials before falling to Boston College 2-1 in the consolation game.  In the 2013 installment, Bowling Green fell 5-0 to Boston College, but rallied to defeat Robert Morris 3-2 the next day.

Lake Superior State at Michigan Tech – Series Preview

 

Michigan Tech: 2016: 23-15-7. 2017: 8-7-4

Lake Superior State: 2016: 11-18-7. 2017: 4-11-3

 

 

Huskies Mushing To Home Ice

The last time these two teams met, Tech was ranked #15 in the nation, and effectively swept the Lakers on their own ice during Great Lake State Weekend. The Huskies won Friday night, and the Lakers took them to the end of Overtime, but lost the extra conference point in a shootout.

Since that Saturday night, the Huskies have won four games cleanly, and one in OT, forcing a tie in three conference games, but losing in the shootout. They’ve lost six games, nine counting the shootout losses, all to conference opponents. Despite this, however, they have enough points to be third in the conference, behind Bowling Green and Minnesota State.

Last weekend Tech split with the dark horse Ferris State who have won four of their last six. They will be hoping to be above .500 conference by the end of the weekend.

 

“We have struck in iceberg and sinking by the head,”

The above quote comes from the ill-fated RMS Titanic. It was a message that was broadcast to a German ship named the Frankfurt (http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-17631595). I believe this is a fitting quote for how this season has gone down in this first half of the season.

The Lakers may have struck the biggest iceberg of all this past weekend, getting beaten handily by Minnesota State, losing 5-1 Friday and 7-0 Saturday. The lone goal came from a soft tap in from the neutral zone by freshman Erikkson. The weekend was mired by horrible officiating, and quite frankly horrible play on the ice.

The team, in recent weeks, have felt much like the movie adaption of the Titanic sinking – people jumping ship and others giving up. Kudos to those players that go out and try their hardest despite linemates not keeping up their level of play.

This weekend looks to be a litmus test for the rest of the season. The play last week was embarrassing to watch, and I couldn’t even imagine what it was like to be on the ice for either game. If the passengers on the team felt embarrassed by their play & the score from last weekend, it should show this week in Houghton, and we should see a hard skating team for all 120+ minutes Friday & Saturday night.

The keys to winning any points this weekend sounds simple, but has proven to be difficult: If you are suiting up to play, play your hardest.

If you are in the area, the game can be seen on the campus of Michigan Tech at the John McInnis Student Ice Arena, or you can listen to the Voice of the Lakers Bill Crawford locally on 99.5 YesFM. If the audio stream is working, the game can also be heard online at www.yesfm.net. Puck drops at 7:07pm both nights.

Minnesota State-Mankato @ LSSU – Series Preview

#8 Minnesota State-Mankato: 2016: 22-13-4. 2017: 9-5-0

Lake Superior State: 2016: 11-18-7. 2017: 4-9-3

 

Number 8 in the nation…Number 2 in the WCHA

It’s another year, and the Minnesota State-Mankato Mavericks are once again ranked, despite being behind unranked Bowling Green in the WCHA. The team is led by second year captain C.J. Suess (formerly Franklin), a Winnipeg Jets draft pick who has 4 goals, 12 assists for 16 points. His fellow co-captains (this team has 3 C’s, with no A’s).

Sophomore defenseman Ian Scheid has a team leading 3 PPGs, ahead of Suess, Knutson, McClure & Rivera, all with 2. Daniel Brickley, a junior defenseman, has the honor of being the most penalized player on the team, taking 11 penalties for a total of 33 minutes. Despite this, he has 10 points in 14 games.

Backstopping the team, you have the duo of seinor Connor Lacouvee, who has played 9 games for the Mavs, with a 7-2-0 record, and Jason Pawloski, a junior with a 2-3-0 record in 6 games played, with his two wins being shutouts. Expect to see Lacouvee in net Friday night.

 

Making for Lake Huron

It’s December here in the Upper Peninsula, and after the last few days, it seems like the snow is here to stay. Before too long, the Sault Locks will be shutting down. The Lakers, with a 4-9-3 record after splitting with the Alaska Nanooks last week, will have to make great strides this week in order get through the metaphorical locks before it’s too late.

Save for a few players, the Lakers looked just bad in the 5-3 loss last Friday night. It showed in coach Damon Whitten’s postgame with Bill Crawford on 99.5 YesFM, stating that some player showed up not ready to play, and saying that they will shorten the bench if they need to. He also noted that the players had called a closed door meeting after the game.

Whatever was said or done in the 20+ hours after the game seemed to spur the team, which went on to win 4-1 Saturday at the Taffy Abel Arena. Let’s hope that whatever was done last weekend motivated the team for this week, since you cannot make a mistake against the Mavericks.

In brighter news, last weekend showed the return of Colin Saccoman, in his first series back since injuring himself in Denver. He did play in the Under-18 game, but that was a single night. He seemed to be testing it Saturday night as the game went on, despite taking regular shifts. It also sounds like Lukas Kaelble is back on the ice, and the team hopes he is back soon. Yuki Miura and Steven Ruggiero hope to make their seasonal debut either next week against the Michigan Tech Huskies, or at the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh, PA.

The keys of the game remain the same as they have been: Stay out of the box, and put shots on net. While it is not realistic to get a sweep this weekend (though we will be hoping for such), getting a split will go a long ways when it comes to the teams’ confidence going forward, even more so since Mankato has been a thorn in Lake State’s side since the dissolution of the CCHA, and the realignment into the WCHA.

 

Laker Hockey has two promotions going on this weekend:

Friday night is Superhero Night: Laker Hockey will be honoring local law enforcement, first responders and military personnel. Get to the arena early between 4-7pm for the EUP United Way Chili Cookout.

Saturday night: Teddy Bear Toss: Bring a stuffed toy to the arena and throw it onto the ice during the first intermission. These will be collected & given to local children in need.

Puck drops at 7:07pm both nights, and can be heard locally on 99.5  YesFM in the Sault, online at www.yesfm.net , or you can watch online at WCHA.tv