Zach Cisek named assistant coach

SAULT STE. MARIE — The Lakers have found their new assistant coach.

Zach Cisek, a former goaltender at Michigan State, was announced today as the replacement for Rich Metro on the coaching staff.

Cisek spent two seasons at MSU before graduating in 2015.  He then went on to Miami University, where he served as a graduate assistant under Enrico Blasi for two seasons while completing a Master’s degree in Kinesiology and Health.

Following his time in Oxford, Ohio, the Canton, Michigan native served under former Lakers coach and current Notre Dame bench boss Jeff Jackson.  During his lone season with the Fighting Irish, Cisek worked greatly with goaltender Cale Morris, whose 1.94 goals against average and .944 save percentage earned him the Mike Richter Award as the top college hockey goaltender in the nation.

Press release:


Metro accepts coaching position at Shattuck-St. Mary’s

SAULT STE. MARIE — Assistant coach Rich Metro is moving on.

The Sault Ste. Marie native, who has been a Laker assistant coach for eight seasons, is taking the reins of the Shattuck-St. Mary’s Boys Under-18 Prep team.

Metro, 43, played four seasons at Northern Michigan from 1995 to 1999.  A forward, he potted 24 goals and 35 assists in 148 games.  With the Wildcats, he saw the program shift from the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) back to the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) in 1997.  During his senior season, Metro’s squad finished runner-up in the CCHA Tournament and made the NCAA Men’s Tournament.

After parts of eight seasons in the minors (including four in France), Metro took a position as video coordinator Lake Superior under Jim Roque in 2007.  The following season, he assumed the role of assistant coach.

In 2014, after coaching Villard-de-Lans in France (the same team for whom he played), Metro returned to Lake Superior, working under then-new bench boss Damon Whitten.

In a press release from Lake Superior, Whitten thanked Metro “for his dedication and commitment to Laker hockey over the years.  We wish him and his family well in this new opportunity and look forward to working with him in his new role.”

Director of Athletics Dr. David Paitson, in the same release, commented that the program is “very happy for Rich as he embarks on this well-deserved opportunity to continue his coaching career.  Rich has been a valuable asset to the Laker hockey program for number of years and will be missed by both the Lake State and Sault community. We wish him the best of luck in his new journey.”

Located in Faribault, Minnesota, Shattuck-St Mary’s (SSM) is considered to be one of the top prep schools in the nation for hockey.  Among its former students are NHLers Sidney Crosby, Patrick Eaves, Jonathan Toews and Zach Parise.

Current and former Lakers who attended SSM include Collin Saccoman, Matt McArdle and Matt Bruneteau.


Breaking: Assistant coach Metro departing Lakers

SAULT STE. MARIE — Laker Hockey Blog has learned that Lake Superior State assistant coach Rich Metro is set to accept a head coaching position at Shattuck-St. Mary’s Preparatory & Boarding School in Faribault, Minnesota.

Metro, 43, has served as an assistant coach for the Lakers over seven seasons in two different stints.  He took a position as video coordinator under Jim Roque in 2007.  The following season, he assumed the role of assistant coach.

In 2014, after coaching Villard-de-Lans in France (the same team for whom he played), the Sault Ste. Marie native returned to Lake Superior, working under then-new bench boss Damon Whitten.

More details to come.

Soo Blueliners golf tournament coming up

SAULT STE. MARIE — Coming up Friday, July 13th, is the 36th annual Soo Blue Liners golf tournament.

Like last years’ iteration, the tournament will be held at the Sault Country Club on Portage Avenue in Sault Ste. Marie.

This year, the Blueliners outing is a 9 hole, 4 person scramble.  The shotgun start will take place at 5 p.m., with a steak dinner to follow around 7 p.m.  Registration begins at 4 p.m.

In addition, both a silent auction and a live auction will be taking place.  The live auction will commence after golfing is done, but before the dinner starts.

Golfers who are, despite the date, feeling lucky, may take a swing at two hole in one opportunities.  Two chances at a new vehicle are being sponsored by Rodenroth Motors and O’Connor’s.

The cost for the Blueliner outing is $80 per person, $65 for dues-paying members of the Blueline Club, and $45 for students.  Persons interested in just the dinner may pay $20 for steak, baked potato, salad and vegetable.

“This is our major fundraiser for the year, and we are looking forward to having a nice turnout,” said Blueliners vice president Chris Ledergerber.

The Soo Blueliners Club is the major support group for hockey at Lake Superior State University.  Founded in 1982, members have raised money for Laker hockey through various events, such as the annual golf outing.

Interested golfers should contact Ledergerber at (906) 248-5732.

McArdle leaves Lakers, joins Merrimack as graduate transfer

Defenseman Matt McArdle (seen here during the 2017-18 season) will be playing at Merrimack as a graduate transfer next season (Mike Barrett/LHB)

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — The 2018-19 season for Lake Superior will open with a two game set against not one, but two former Lakers.

Defenseman Matt McArdle will be lacing up the skates for the Merrimack Warriors as a graduate transfer this upcoming season.

In 83 games for the Lakers, the native of Annapolis, Maryland, had one goal and nine assists.  He suited up for all 36 games in his sophomore campaign.

The opening games of next season already had some intrigue for Lake Superior.  Former head coach Scott Borek was named the new head coach of the Warriors back in April.  About a month later, the Lakers released their 2018-19 schedule, revealing they would be opening the season on the road against Merrimack.

Future Lakers compete at Royal Bank Cup

CHILLIWACK, B.C. — Owen Guy and Pierre-Luc Veillette are already teammates with the Ottawa Junior Senators of the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL).

They’ve still got a few more years together.

The future Lakers, who appear to be joining the Lakers next season, reached the Royal Bank Cup, the top prize for all ten Junior A leagues in Canada, ultimately falling in the Cup semifinals.

By putting together a 46-9-5-2 regular season mark that saw them place atop the CCHL’s Yzerman Division, the Junior Sens put themselves in great position for the CCHL playoffs.  Ottawa then defeated Pembroke and Brockville before facing Carleton Place in the league final.  The Junior Sens put an end to the four year reign of the Canadians, as they captured the Art Bogart Cup as league champs.

Advancing to the Fred Page Cup, the Jr. Sens took first place in the round robin with two regulation wins and an overtime win.  They punched their ticket to the RBC with a dominating 10-1 victory over Longueuil of the Quebec Junior Hockey League (LHJQ).

Interestingly, the Junior Sens found themselves in the RBC semifinals with no regulation wins.  Six of the ten games in the round robin went to overtime, including all four games played by Ottawa.

The winners of the Fred Page Cup started off with a 2-1 win over the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s (OJHL) Wellington Dukes, winners of the Dudley Hewitt Cup.  The next day, they suffered a 3-2 loss to the host Chilliwack Chiefs of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL).

A 3-2 shootout loss to the BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild (who captured the Doyle Cup) led the Junior Senators into their final game in the round robin against the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) and AVANET Cup champion Steinbach Pistons.  This time, the overtime nail-biter came out in favour of Ottawa, who picked up a 5-4 win.

Facing the Chiefs in the semifinal, Ottawa took a 2-2 game into the third period, but when Chilliwack hit the tiebreaker with about ten minutes left, the Junior Senators had no answer, as they fell 3-2.  Veillette and Guy had both of the goals for Ottawa.

For their part in the series, Guy and Veillette have combined for 3 goals and 3 assists.  Guy’s first goal of the tournament helped send the game against Steinbach to overtime.

The last Laker prospect to play in the RBC was Owen Headrick with the Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League (NOJHL) in 2015.  The T’Birds made little noise in that rendition of the cup, held in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, as they lost all four games in the round robin.

Among members of the 2017-18 Laker squad, senior Ryan Renz’s Vernon Vipers (BCHL) hosted the Cup and made it to the semifinals.  No current members of the team won the Cup before leaving junior hockey.

Torrel, Cuglietta announced as co-captains for 2018-19 Lakers

SAULT STE. MARIE — Lake Superior State will have co-captains for the upcoming season.

Current juniors Gage Torrel and Diego Cuglietta were announced as team captains for the 2018-19 season by head coach Damon Whitten during the annual Soo Blue Liners Banquet on Thursday.

In addition, junior Anthony Nellis and sophomore Collin Saccoman were named assistant captains.

Torrel, a native of Monticello, Minnesota, served as an assistant captain during the 2017-18 season.  He was named Outstanding Freshman and Offensive Player of the Year during his first season with the Lakers.  In that first season, Torrel was named WCHA Rookie of the Month for December and February.  Over three seasons with the team, he has scored 27 goals and added 30 assists for 57 total points.  This past season, Torrel had 16 points — good for sixth on the team.  He received the Jim Howie Unsung Hero Award at the conclusion of the year.

Cuglietta will don the other C as the most recent recipient of the team MVP award.  A steady point producer from Kamloops, British Columbia, he finished the season tied for 2nd on the team (with Max Humitz) with 23 points.  Known for his speed, Cuglietta has been a presence on the ice in all situations.  Nearly half of his 25 career goals have come on special teams (8 power play goals and 4 shorthanded tallies).

Nellis, another junior forward, has been a consistent contributor for the Lakers in his first three seasons.  His goal total has risen each season, from 4 his freshman year, to 9 the previous year, to 12 this past season.  This season saw the native of Breakyville, Quebec, tally 19 total points.  His previously mentioned 12 goals were 2nd most on the squad last season.  At the recent Awards Banquet, Nellis was named Offensive Player of the Year.

The only one of the captains who will not be a senior next season, Saccoman was noticed right off in his freshman season for his prowess at blocking shots.  His 94 blocks were the most in the WCHA during his freshman year and the 4th most nationally.  Saccoman led the league again last season with 81.  Perhaps most impressive about his total from his sophomore campaign is that he had 11 more blocked shots than the next closest player (Joe Rutkowski of Ferris State), despite playing in just 27 games.  Although he suffered a bit of the sophomore jinx in scoring (18 points in 2016-17 versus 5 in 2017-18), his presence on the blue line is felt.

Cuglietta named MVP at 35th annual Blue Liners Banquet; captains announced

Junior forward Diego Cuglietta was named team MVP for the 2017-18 season at the Soo BlueLiners Banquet on May 3rd.

SAULT STE. MARIE — Junior forward Diego Cuglietta took home the Most Valuable Player award at the 2018 Soo Blue Liners Banquet, held at the Christopher Columbus Hall in Sault Ste. Marie on May 3rd.

The native of Kamloops, British Columbia was named MVP by his teammates at the 35th annual banquet put on by the Blue Liners.

Cuglietta finished the season tied for 2nd on the team in scoring with seven goals and 16 assists for 23 points.  Sophomore Max Humitz matched Cuglietta’s mark, and both were passed by only senior J.T. Henke.

To this point in his Laker career, he has 25 goals and 34 assists for 59 points.  Cuglietta has been a presence in all aspects of the game, as his 12 career special teams goals (8 power play, 4 shorthanded) would indicate.

Breaking from his tradition of waiting until shortly before the season starts, head coach Damon Whitten announced the team captains for the upcoming season, of which Cuglietta was named co-captain, along with Gage Torrel.  Assistant captains were also named, in Anthony Nellis and sophomore defenseman Collin Saccoman.

Taking home the Jim Howie Unsung Hero Award was junior forward Torrel.  Torrel, an assistant captain this season, had been named Outstanding Freshman and Most Valuable Forward in his freshman year.  Although his production dipped off a bit from his first two years, his presence and leadership on the ice was felt by his teammates and coaches.

For the second consecutive year, the Most Improved Player award was presented to a freshman.  Forward Chase Gamelin, a native of Soo, Michigan, followed Brendan McKay as the recipient, who won last year as a freshman.  Gamelin, who did not play until early November, made the most of his time in the lineup, eventually accumulating three assists.  Among them was an assist on a game winner by Anthony Nellis that allowed the Lakers to sweep Alaska Anchorage on the road late in the season.

The Most Valuable Defenseman award was given to a man quite familiar with the award.  Senior Kyle Chatham won the award for the third consecutive year.  A native of Belleville, Illinios, Chatham first was named MVD his sophomore year, the season in which he also was named Most Improved Player.  Following the season, he had a brief stint with the ECHL’s Reading Royals.  Not much of a scorer, Chatham nonetheless did have at least one memorable offensive moment this season, where he drilled a shot from the blue line late in the third period of a tie game to earn the Lakers a win over Ferris State.

The Gay Blade Award, which has held many different interpretations through the years, has been awarded to the player that keeps a positive attitude during the year in recent seasons.  This year’s recipient was Laker newcomer Steven Ruggiero.  A draft pick of the Anaheim Ducks, Ruggiero came to the Lakers via Providence College (Hockey East).  As a transfer, he had to sit out until the mid point of the season, but made himself known both on the ice and in the locker room.

The Outstanding Freshman Award went to Hampus Erikkson, one of three rookie forwards for Lake Superior this season.  Erikkson, who hails from Forsbacka, Sweden, led all freshman in scoring with 4 goals and 6 assists.  He was one of eight players on the team to score double digit points.  Listed at 6’6″, Erikkson was the tallest player on the team this season.

For the third straight year, the Most Valuable Forward was a member of the 2019 graduating class.  Anthony Nellis followed in the footsteps of Torrel (2016) and Mitch Hults (2017) with a fine effort on the ice.  His 19 points were fourth most on the team this season.  Among his 12 goals were two game winners late in the season, both of which came on the road at Alaska Anchorage.  A native of Breakyville, Quebec, Nellis has improved his goal output each season, from four his freshman year, to 9 last year to his 12 this season.

Receiving the BlueLiners Player of the Year was leading scorer J.T. Henke.  Henke, who led the team with 27 points, ends his Laker career with 79 points in three seasons.  After playing his freshman year at the University of Maine (Hockey East), he transferred to Lake Superior, where he quickly became a force in the Lakers’ lineup.  Among his accomplishments are finishing 1st or 2nd in scoring each year he has played for the Lakers, as well as scoring the most recent hat trick for Laker player.  This was the second year he was named BlueLiner Player of the Year, after last season.

In addition to the regular awards, pucks were presented to players for either scoring their first goal or earning their first win (in the case of goaltenders) as a Laker.  The three seniors in attendance (Chatham, Ryan Renz and Aidan Wright) each gave speeches, addressing their time in the Laker program.


Miura, Japan earns silver at IIHF World Championship

KAUNAS, Lithuainia — Yuki Miura has a medal at the IIHF World Championships to add to his hockey resume.

The forward for the Lakers spent the last week playing five games in Lithuania for his native Japan in Division I, Group B of the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships.

The Japanese team finished with 2 wins in regulation, plus 2 more in overtime, and one regulation loss.  This placed them in a tie for second place with Estonia; Japan won the tiebreaker due to the head-to-head win in the first game of the tournament.

Japan started out with a 3-2 overtime win over Estonia — a game that proved important later.  They followed it up with a 4-3 win over Croatia before falling 6-1 to host Lithuania.  A 3-2 overtime win over Romania was capped off by their strong showing in a 7-1 win against the Ukranians.

With a little help from Lithuania, who had already secured the gold prior to their 4-1 win over Estonia, the Japanese team clinched the silver.

In the scoring column, Miura finished tied for fifth on the team in scoring with 4 points (0-4—4).

In addition to his scoring, Miura also won 60% of the faceoffs he took — fifth best in the tourney and second best on his team (behind Nakajima Shogo).

The third-youngest player on the team, Miura also fared well in the plus/minus column, finishing +4, good for ninth overall and fifth on his team


Soo Blueliners Banquet set for May 3rd

SAULT STE. MARIE —The 37th annual Soo Blue Liners Banquet is coming up.

In a change of pace from years past, the Banquet will be held at the Christopher Columbus Hall at the corner of Sheridan Drive and Brown Street in Sault Ste. Marie.  Prior years have seen the event hosted at the Walker Cisler Centre on the campus of Lake State.

Cost of admission is $23 for adults and $12 for children under the age of 13.  As in the past, parents of the senior players are admitted free of charge.

Tickets for the event must be purchased in advance.  Those interested in obtaining a ticket may do so in any of the following ways:

  • Phone: Hunter Perry, Marketing and Ticket Director, may be reached Monday thru Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at (906) 635-2601.
  • In person: Perry can also sell tickets at the Norris Center Ticket Office during the hours mentioned above.
  • Online:

The banquet is scheduled to begin with a social hour around 5:30 p.m.  Dinner will be served at 6 p.m., with the program to follow at 7 p.m.  Presentation of team awards will take place, as well as speeches from the coaches and seniors.

The dinner menu consists of steak rolls, meatballs, chicken, salad, penne macaroni, Italian roasted potatoes, bread & butter, coffee & dessert.  In addition, a cash bar will be present.

“Each year we have our annual hockey awards banquet to recognize and congratulate the seniors on the team, as well as the other players for their achievements during the season,” said Blueliners Vice President Chris Ledergerber. “There are nine player awards, eight of which are voted on by the team.  The ninth, the Blueline Player of the Year, is voted on by the Blue Line club members.”

For more information, contact Ledergerber at (906) 248-5732.