Tag: lakers

Playoff Series Preview: Lake Superior State at #10 Bemidji State

LSSU: 13-21-4

Bemidji: 20-9-5

Beavers Bite Back

Prior to Saturday night, the Beavers had won eight in a row (counting a technical tie, but winning on 3v3 OT), outscoring opponents 31 to 10, including a 5-0 shutout against then #19 Northern Michigan. They’re being led in scoring by senior Adam Brady, who posted 17 goals, 14 assists for 31 points during the regular season. He is followed closely by sophomore forward Owen Sillinger, who tallied a 12-18—30 point season and junior Aaron Miller with 12-16—28.

Sophomore Zach Driscoll owns the net for Bemidji State, having played in all but 4 games this season, and posting 19 wins, 7 losses and 4 ties. He has only a 1.6 GAA and a .937 save %.

This team will be a tough nut to crack for the boys in blue, since during the regular season the Lakers only took one game from the Beavers, a 3v3 OT win at Abel Arena. Otherwise Bemidji outscored the Lakers 18-5.

The Lakers and Playoff Woes

The Lakers have been locked in to the seventh seed for the tail end of the season, but managed to finish the season fairly strong, winning six of their last eight (including a SO win), and had a strong performance against a bad Ferris State team to end the season, outscoring the Bulldogs 9-2 on the weekend.

Even though the Lakers have some big time scorers in Max Humitz (19-13—32), Ashton Calder (12-14—26), Louis Boudon (6-20—26) and Pierre-Luc Veillette (12-12—24), they’ll need to get some help on the backend in order to make this weekend work. Our boys in blue will also need to be solid on the blueline if they really want a shot at an upset.

As always, Mareks Mitens holds the keys for the net, though Roman Bengert did tally a win in the final game of the season against the Bulldogs, so if the series goes to three games, I wouldn’t be too shocked to see him out there in relief.

If history counts for anything, these are going to be some rough games. Save for last season, the Lakers have had a recent history of either blowouts or shutouts. If they lose but keep the score close & low, I’ll see it as a win, personally.

Puck Drops at 8:07 ET in Bemidji, Minnesota. The game can be heard locally at 99.5 YESFM, or through TuneIn. Flohockey will have the video broadcast, and if you are local to the Soo, Buffalo Wild Wings will be having watch parties for the games this weekend.

Series Preview: Lake Superior State University at Michigan Tech – Winter Carnival Edition

Lake State: 8-19-3

Michigan Tech: 15-13-3

Huskies Get Bit

I wouldn’t want to be the Lakers this weekend as they travel over to Houghton to face the Michigan Tech Huskies. The Huskies are sure to be wound up this weekend, not only because of it being the 98th Winter Carnival, but also because they were trounced by the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers last Saturday night, splitting the weekend.

Tech is led in scoring by a trio of sophomores: Alec Broetzman (12-7–19), Trenton Bliss (9-10—19) and Eric Gotz (4-13—17). Brian Halonen (10-6—16) is also worth mentioning, being second in overall goals for the team.

Senior Matt Jurusik leads the trio of goalies,  having played in 27 of their 31 games. He has a 2.04GAA and a .921 Save %. Junior Robbie Beydoun and Blake Pietila have also played a handful of games, with Beydoun having the better record & stats compared to the freshman goalie.

Tech looks to be set up to be a pretty consistent team over the next few years, with a large stable of freshmen and sophomores, with their sophomores leading in scoring.

Lakers Lean into the Home Stretch

The last few weeks have been interesting. They ‘swept’ the Seawolves at home, winning on Friday and winning in 3×3 OT, but we all know It counts a tie, then losing in OT to the US Under-18 team. We also saw our second 100 point player in as many years and a come from behind win.

Co-captain Max Humitz leads in overall scoring & goals for the Lakers – doubling up on the second overall goal-scorer, Pierre-Luc Veillette, with 16 goals, 7 assists for 24 points. Junior center Hampus Eriksson (5-14–19) and freshman Louis Boudon (4-14—18) round out the top 3 in points.

Goaltending has been the Mareks Mitens show despite having a 2.77 GAA and a .901 save %. Unless something strange happens in the offseason that would see Mitens leave, we will have another year to find a proper replacement starting goaltender, especially seeing as Roman Bengert is also a junior. The Lakers do have former Brahma Seth Eisele who, in 33 games for the Brahmas last season, posted a 2.28 GAA and a .926 Save5 in the regular season, and a 1.73 GAA and .943 in 5 playoff games.

This weekend’s games can be heard or seen in the normal spots: At Michigan Tech, on local radio 99.5 YesFM or on Tunein. Flohockey.tv will have the video feed from Houghton. Puck drops Friday night at 7:07pm, then a quick turnaround for 5:07pm Saturday night.

Breaking Down The Elusive Century Point

Over the course of it’s program, the Lakers have had a number of prolific scorers, but until last season it had been a while since someone hit this elusive mark. Diego Cuglietta pulled it off during the 2018-2019 campaign, and now Max Humitz has hit the 100 point mark of his career. But before last season, Domenic Monardo was the last one to do so, and he graduated in 2013. Five long years we had to wait.

But now with seeing two guys reach this marker, one has to wonder when we might see another. Who is on track to score 100? I decided to take a look at the stats and try to guess who the next wave is.

First, all the stats come from CollegeHockeyInc.com, which is a fantastic resource not only for those looking to get into/play the sport, but it also has a fantastic statistics database that goes back to the 2012-13 season.

Now, the raw breakdown of our current roster:

Player #NameClassPosGPGATPGPGATPGPGATPGPGATPTotal GPTotal GoalsTotal AssistsTotal Points100~Number of Games LeftAvg Pts/Game Needed
2019-20202018-20192017-20182016-2017TOTALS AS OF 1/25/2020Pts Behind
#21Max HumitzSRF3016824361617333613102336137201385842100060
#11Brayden GelsingerSRF111123810132329810183651015114243458-4267
#23Collin SaccomanSRD1763937101525271453631417117203656-4467.3333333333333
#24Hampus ErikssonJRF30514193631114334610000099123143-57441.2954545454545
#22Lukas KaelbleJRD30281037221232616700009353540-60441.3636363636364
#16Ashton CalderSOF306101637517220000000067112738-62800.775
#26Pierre-Luc VeilletteSOF308917322680000000062101525-75800.9375
#15Jacob NordqvistSOD241673831518000000006242125-75800.9375
#3William RiedellJRD302573547113323500009881523-77441.75
#29Louis BoudonFRF29414180000000000002941418-821160.70689655172414
#18Bryan BasilicoSRF280113753830134112131068816-84614
#10Brendan McKaySRF300003631013241121200010241115-85614.166666666667
#14Yuki MiuraJRF30291123202701100006041014-86441.9545454545455
#4Tyler AndersonJRD2912329033351450000932911-89442.0227272727273
#9Alexandro AmbrosioJRF293362210114011000065448-92442.0909090909091
#7Mitchell OliverSOD2907700000000000029077-93801.1625
#17Chase GamelinJRF180003212320033000070156-94442.1363636363636
#8Dustin ManzFRF2914500000000000029145-951160.81896551724138
#20Miroslav MuchaSOF1913480000000000027134-96801.2
#13Ian JohnstonSRF80111000171121100037123-97616.166666666667
#6Alec SemandelSOD11011171120000000028123-97801.2125
Owen GuySOF7011120110000000019022-980N/A
#27Niko Esposito-SelivanovFRF1310100000000000013101-991160.85344827586207
#5Arvid Henrikson (MTL)FRD2601100000000000026011-99442.25
#1Roman BengertJRG30001000000000004000-100442.2727272727273
Robert BluegerFRF30000000000000003000-1000N/A
#30Mareks MitensJRG290001100014000000054000-100442.2727272727273

Here’s everyone’s total games played, goals, assists and total points over the last four seasons, up through 1/25/2020. Number of games left is 8 (the rest of the normal season), plus 36 games each year. Also, the table is sorted by the number of points behind 100.

I’ve gone ahead and made some assumptions: Max will be the only senior to get 100 points. The rest of the class is too far behind. The next closest is Brayden Gelsinger who is still 42 points behind. He would have to average 5.25 points a game for the rest of the season to make it, and with Saccoman either out for the season or just the majority of it, he will end 44 points back.

Next I’ve also assumed that none of the Juniors will get there either. Hampus Eriksson is the top Junior, but only has 43 career points, 57 behind with Lukas Kaelble 60 behind. These guys should be able to get some impressive numbers, but assuming 44 games left in each junior’s career (8 games left this season, plus assuming 36 next year), Eriksson would have to score ~1.3 points/game over that time, with Kaelble needing ~1.36 pts/game. Deep playoff runs would certainly make things a bit interesting, however. That number just gets larger with the rest of the junior class.

However, looking at the sophomore class, things get kind of interesting. Sault native Ashton Calder leads his class with 38 total points in 67 games. With that, he’s 62 points behind, and assuming 80 games left in his collegiate career, he needs .775 pts/game. Considering he’s already at 1.32 pts/game so far, so long as he stays through his senior year, and continue the way he has, he should reach 100 points.

As for the rest of the sophomores, Pierre-Luc Veillette & Jacob Nordqvist are both tied on total points & games left. Each need 75 points to make up the difference, which is .94 pts/game Both of these guys have great hands & should come close, but unless the team really wakes up down the stretch & into next season, I think they may just miss it. The rest of their class is simply too far behind. Mitchell Oliver, for example, would be next up, but he has 7 points total, and would need 1.16 pts/game (though, to be fair, he is a sophomore on the roster, but this is his first year with the team).

Finally we have the freshmen. While you have fantastic team players like Dustin Manz, Arvid Henrikson who have played most of the games this season, they haven’t scored much, and the same goes for Niko Esposito-Selivanov, however he’s only appeared in 13 contests thus far. No, as far as point scorers go we have Louis Boudon, who in 29 games has amassed 18 total points, putting him 82 points back. Again, assuming 116 games remaining, he needs to average .7 pts/game.

TL;DR: The next 100-point scorer should be Ashton Calder followed by Louis Boudon the next season. Sophomores Veillette & Nordqvist should get an impressive number of points, but fall short, failing a deep playoff run.

Postseason Series Preview: Bemidji State At #20 Lake Superior State University

Bemidji State: 15-15-6

#20 Lake Superior State: 21-11-2

Beavers Bouncing Back

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, eh?

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 Saturday.

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.

Potential Parting Thoughts

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 1995-1996

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:

Forwards: Gelsinger, Cuglietta, Humitz (x2), Nellis

Defenseman: Saccoman (x2 week, 2x Month), Ruggerio

Goaltender: Mitens & Kossoff

Rookie: Veillette, Nordqvist (1x week, 1x Month), Calder (x1 Week, x1 Month)

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 game.

Series Preview: Ferris State at #19 Lake Superior State

Ferris State: 9-22-3

#19 Lake Superior State: 20-10-2

Beaten Bulldogs

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 tiebreakers).

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 a +4.

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.

Senior Weekend

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 there.

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.

Series Preview: Michigan Tech @ #19 Lake Superior State University

 

Michigan Tech: 12-14-4

#19 Lake Superior State: 18-8-2

 

WhatYearIsIt.meme

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.

 

Opinion/Thoughts on: Lake Superior State Are Your GLI Champions!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WOOOOOOOOHOOOOOO! THE LAKERS WON THE GLI.

*deep breath*

Sorry, I had to get that out of my system. I’ve been flying high (mostly) since Monday evening, and needed to take some time before writing about my time in Detroit, and the GLI itself. 

WARNING: What follows attempts to be structured, but may look like word vomit. I am still excited, and just wanted to get my real feelings on this event out there.

Ever since the news came out that the Lakers were going to be playing at the GLI, and the final dates were set, I’ve been moving full speed ahead towards going to the game. Making sure my colleague at work would cover my on call, seeing who was all going, figuring out where to stay & how the hell to move around the city. But was it worth it.

First, let me say that I was really impressed with Detroit. The city was lovely as were the people. The food was good. The only bad thing I will say was the traffic a few of the nights, but I guess that can’t be helped.

As for the tournament: Having only been in 1 NHL stadium before (the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia), I was pretty impressed by Little Ceasers Arena. Mostly. From the road, it would be easy to miss that you have a stadium where it’s at, since the facade is made to look like a set of restaurants or bars from the street. Now, I understand that it’s not for everyone, but I thought it was a clever use of the space.

An aside: Despite the history of both the Red Wings and the Pistons, there was a distinct lack of memorabilia. Under some of the escalators featured some pieces, the store had a few, and they had the player statues from the Joe. But with the amount of dead space on the walls around the stadium, they could certainly add more, in much the same way as the Flyer had done.

ANYWAYS!

We made it to the stadium about halfway through the second period of the Michigan Tech-Michigan game, and it was very entertaining. It’s always fun to see former CCHA rivals in person, though we did see them earlier in the year. But despite it being a good game, lets face it, I wasn’t there for Tech or Michigan…I was there for our boys in blue.

Despite Michigan State being a much worse team (on paper at least), they certainly kept up with the Lakers, forcing overtime to make it that much more interesting. And until that overtime goal, I had been trying my best to not imagine the Lakers being in the final. My heart wouldn’t have been able to handle that kind of heartbreak.

But woo boy. Onto the all U.P Final.

The consolation game was all I ever wanted to see from a Michigan-Michigan State game, essentially a line  brawl, with a goalie thrown in the mix. Of course, not having a clear cut winner of the game was disappointing, but that would’ve delayed what we were there to see…

 

Lake Superior State University at Michigan Tech!

 

The Lakers certainly looked good out of the gate, but allowed the Huskies to come back and tie it up, both at 2-2. The Lakers would go on to get two more, going up 4-2 before the Huskies got to 4-3. Then the first open-net.

 

Then the second empty net with less than a minute. My eyes started to well up. They did it. The boys did it.

 

It was all I could do to keep from openly crying as that clock was counting down, and the final horn rang out. The guys jumping over the board, surrounding Kossoff, celebrating. Seeing the MTU officials come onto the ice with the trophy and banner, handing both to the captains. Seeing them lift the trophy as if it was Lord Stanley’s cup itself. Knowing that the name of our school will be hanging in the rafters for the next year warms my heart, and makes me tear up just a little bit.

You may be asking yourself why. Why get so emotional? But for anyone who has followed the Lakers for any time can attest: While some good players and teams have come and gone since the championship years of the early-mid 90’s, there really hasn’t been a whole lot to cheer for. Mediocre records, no real deep playoff runs, haven’t won a conference since 95 or 96, which was the last tournament appearance.

But the GLI is one of the most well known tournaments in college hockey. Especially here in the great state of Michigan. It’s something to be proud of, to be able to hold high and to not only win it, but to really dominate their in-conference opponent makes it even sweeter.

So I would like to thank the team for giving me a weekend I don’t think I’ll ever forget. And since I know this will get to him, and despite our differences, thank you too, Coach Whitten, for having this team come together to what many across college hockey thought was an impossible feat. And I hope that our athletic department does something special for this. Maybe blowing up the team photo, like the one seen above, and put it up somewhere in Abel Arena?

I don’t know how the rest of the season is going to go, and even if I had a crystal ball, I’m not sure I would want to know. But what I do know is that for the first time in a while, I am really excited for this team, and I think we have a real shot at doing something this season, at least within the WCHA. Maybe the NCAA tournament is a lofty goal, but it’s one I do hope to see.

Quick History of the Great Lakes Invitational & Series Preview – Lake Superior State @ Great Lakes Invitational.

First, I hope everyone who celebrates had a Merry Christmas, or at the very least a Happy Holiday. But now that the holidays are done, that means that the second half the Laker hockey season is set to begin. And to start out the second half, the boys in blue will return to Detroit for the first time since 1999 (that’s 19 years!) to play in the Great Lakes Invitational!

I’m sure most people who follow college hockey are familiar with the GLI, but for those who aren’t, hopefully this will shed a little bit of light on the tournament. Most of this will have been taken from the Wiki, which will do a much better job than I could at explaining it, but I will try to hit the important bits.

The first tournament was held in 1965, at the former home of the Detroit Red Wings, Olympia Stadium. Michigan Tech has served as it’s main host from the beginning, but in 1976, the University of Michigan were made co-hosts, with Michigan State being the traditional third member. After Olympia closed, it was moved to the Joe Lewis Arena, and the second tournament will be held at Little Ceaser’s Arena this season. The 2013 edition was held at Comerica Park in an outdoor game.

27 of the current 61 D1 teams have participated in the tournament at least once, some non-D1 programs have also included Western Ontario, Pennsylvania & Toronto.

Lake Superior State has participated in the Great Lakes Invitational three times, placing in each place but first. Our first appearance was in 1977, coming in third behind MTU and Michigan.

1996 featured the Lakers coming in second behind Michigan. The third and final time was in 1999, coming in last behind the three traditional participants: Michigan State, Michigan and Michigan Tech.

Now, what does the winning team get? Well, other than bragging rights, a banner is raised within the arena with the most current winner’s name. A trophy is also handed out that will be engraved with the winner’s name.

So, that brings us to this season. This year’s Great Lakes Invitional features the Lakers alongside Tech, Michigan and State. While we don’t know the opponent for Monday, as that will depend on who wins Sunday, we do know our first opponent: Michigan State.

Michigan State: 6-9-1

Lake Superior State: 9-6-1

The Spartans are led in scoring this season by two junior and a sophomore forwards, Taro Hirose, Patrick Khodorenko and Mitchell Lewandowski, totaling 58 of the team’s 112 points. The net is split between Junior John Lethemon & Freshman Drew DeRidder. Lethemon has the better of the stats, but neither are worth writing home about.

Your Lakers are being led by the senior duo of Anthony Nellis, Diego Cuglietta and junior Brayden Gelsinger. Nick Kossoff has seemed to have won the main goaltending spot over Mareks Mitens, but I’m sure Mareks will be competing hard to take that spot from Nick.

Your other two potential opponents records look like this:

Michigan: 6-7-4

Michigan Tech: 10-7-1.

I will not be getting a preview out for Monday’s series as I will be in Detroit, and won’t have time to post anything.

I believe tickets are still available in the suggested Laker sections, so I would emplore anybody who can make it to Detroit to come and cheer your Lakers on. A few wins this weekend could set us up for the rest of the season.

For those who can’t make it, 99.5 YesFM should have the call again for both games. Sunday’s game starts at 4pm, with Monday’s starting at either 11:30 for the third place game, or 2:30pm for the championship game. I will do my best to post this information on both Facebook and Twitter. It looks like Fox Sports Detroit will either be showing the championship game live, either on TV or streaming through their website or app.

For anyone that is attending, if you see me walking around the arena, do stop and say hello. If anyone else is driving through the upcoming storm this weekend, drive safe.

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.

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.