Tag: preview

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

Alaska @ Lake Superior State – Series Preview

 

Alaska: 2016: 12-20-4. 2017: 4-10-2

LSSU: 2016: 11-18-7 2017: 3-8-3

 

Bearing Down

Coming off of a tough 5-4 OT loss Friday night against the Huskies of Michigan Tech, and a Saturday night game that they’d rather forget, a 5-1 loss to MTU, the Alaska Nanooks return to Sault Sainte Marie for a two game stretch, albeit with one less player.

Junior defenseman Jack Weiss was given a one game suspension after a contact to the head call made against the player in Saturday night’s game. The defenseman has skated for only four games this season and currently only has a single goal with no assists. Despite only skating for four games, he has enough penalty minutes to come in second for most penalized player on the team, well behind senior defenseman Zach Frye.

Backstopping the team this season are a duo of sophomores, with the lead workhorse being the Sweade Anton Martinsson, with 13 games played and posting a GAA of 3.16 and SV% of .895.

Turning Up The Heat

The Lakers are in a tough spot coming off of 6-0 showing against the USNTDP U-18s last Saturday. While the team gets back star sophomore defenseman Colin Saccoman, there were a few players missing from the exhibition game and are rumored to be injured: forwards Brayden Gelsinger and Jake Hand and defenseman & captain Aiden Wright. This is in addition to Lukas Kaelble still being out and losing C.J. Hayes to the SPHL.

Despite the injuries and losses, the Lakers will have to use this win as a springboard for the rest of the season. The rest of the first half certainly doesn’t get any easier, as the #8 Minnesota State-Mankato comes to town next weekend, and the Lakers travel to Houghton to take on the Huskies the weekend of the 15th/16th. For the final weekend of the year, they will travel to Pittsburgh for the Three Rivers Classic to take on the hosts Robert Morris University, and one of either Arizona State or Providence, who is currently ranked #9 in the country (and this reporter will be at PPG Paints Arena for the tournament).

One of the keys for the remainder of 2017, and really for the season, is to stop taking stupid penalties and making easy mistakes. The top two penalty-getters couldn’t be any different. Matt McArdle has taken 10 penalties in 14 games for a total of 23 minutes. Max Humitz has taken two less penalties  but has 27 minutes.  The Lakers have a broken D-corp at the moment, so having a defenseman in the box isn’t ideal, nor is the top goal-getter of the team.

 

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: Lake Superior State at Bowling Green University

Bowling Green: 2016: 21-18-2 2017: 4-3-2

Lake State: 2016: 11-18-7 2017: 2-6-2

 

Bowling Over the Competition

Unsurprisingly, the Bowling Green Falcons are off to a great start this season, backstopped by the underclass duo of Ryan Bednard and Eric Dop. Bednard, a sophomore, has posted a 2.14 GAA with a .924 SV%; Dop has a 1.75GAA and a .936 SV%. On the front end, they are being lead by freshman forward Cameron Wight, who has 9 points in 9 games, followed closely by sophomore defenseman Alec Rauhauser.

The Falcons will be making it tough on the Lakers this weekend at the Slater Family Ice Arena, where the Falcons have a 3-1-1 record early in the season. Behind the bench they are lead by 8th year head coach Chris Bergeron, who has not had a losing season since the 2012-2013 campaign.

They were slated to be #4 by the preseason polls, but are sitting on top of the WCHA. After this weekend, their schedule for the rest of the year certainly does not get any easier, facing #10 Minnesota State, Miami and Bemidji State over the next three weeks, although all three are at home.

Lakers Get Dogged

While the goal was to sweep last week, it was sure good to see the Lakers split the weekend series with the Sea Wolves of Alaska-Anchorage. The Lakers certainly did not play a clean game Saturday night and squandered some chances, but I liked what they were trying to do to get pucks in the net.

But seeing as the Sea Wolves provided that much of a challenge for the Lakers, this weekend will prove tough to nobodies surprise. However,  one bright spot going into this weekend is that the Lakers actually have 2 more total points than BG, being lead by 1.3 Pts/game J.T. Henke (13 points in 10 games). Bowling Green’s scoring looks to be a bit more spread out across their roster, with only 8 skaters not having points (6 not counting goalies), whereas the Lakers have 10 players without points (8 without goalies).

The keys to getting points this weekend are the same as they should be every week: Limit shots, generate shots & stay out of the box. The Lakers cannot afford to take any stupid penalties or give the officials any reason to look for a penalty.

This slugfest can be seen locally at the Taffy Abel Arena, with the Friday game starting at 7:37pm and the Saturday night game starting 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: Michigan Tech at Lake Superior State

Michigan Tech: 2017 record: 2-1-0. 2016: 23-15-7

Lake Superior State: 2017 Record: 1-1-0. 2016: 11-18-7

 

Shawhan Mushing the Huskies

After an outstanding 2016-2017 campaign, a number of changes happened in Houghton, MI during the offseason that lead many to believe that dark days were coming for the Huskies. Outstanding goaltender Angus Redmond, who led the Huskies to a #2 WCHA & #19 NCAA finish last season left the team to go pro with the Aniheim Ducks organization (and is currently assigned to the San Diego Gulls of the AHL).

In addition to Redmond, Michigan Tech also lost their Head Coach, Mel Pearson, to take over for long-time Michigan head coach Red Berenson  who retired after 33 years of coaching the Wolverines, ending with an outstanding 848-429-92 record. The Tech vacancy was filled by former assistant coach, and Sault Sainte Marie native Joe Shawhan who played for the Lakers from 1982-1987 & was a volunteer coach for their 1992 & 1994 national championships.

Last week, however, critics were silenced as Tech doubled up  #16 Union and beat #6 Minnesota-Duluth to win the annual Ice Breaker tournament. The huskies hope to continue that streak this weekend against the Lakers.

Rough Seas Ahead

Those of us who were at Abel Arena on Friday last week for game 1 against NMU would think that this year was the year, much the same was as we did last year against Michigan State during GLSW. The Lakers beat the Wildcats 5-3 in the first game of a home-and-home series. Diego Cuglietta scored two goals for the Lakers, with the others coming from Max Humitz, J.T Henke and Anthony Nellis. Freshman Lukas Kaelble assisted on 3 of the 5 goals.

Saturday night was a different story, however, as NMU outscored the Lakers 4-1 with the final 3 goals coming late in their respective periods. Philip Beaulieu scored the game winning goal at 19:20 of the second, with goals 3 & 4 coming at 18:01 and 18:28 of the third.

The Lakers know firsthand just how dominant Michigan Tech can be after being trounced in the first round of the WCHA playoffs last  year, losing 6-4 and 8-0. They also have not won a game against Tech since bench boss Damon Whitten took over.

The keys for the Lakers this weekend is to close out periods & not to give their top scorers in Joel L’Esperance and Mark Auk any good looks at the goal. Whitten also has to not be gun shy in pulling a goalie or shortening the bench if a player does not perform. The Huskies are a team that will take advantage of anything you give them.  On paper, they have it all: goal scorers, a solid blueline & a barn full of goalies, but all of that is for naught if you can’t finish a game as strong as you started it.

The games start Friday night at 7:37pm and Saturday at 7:07pm, and will be part of the GLSW celebration.

Series Preview: Northern Michigan University @/vs. Lake Superior State

2016-2017 Records:

NMU: 13-22-4, 10-15-3-1 WCHA

LSSU: 11-18-7, 8-13-7-4 WCHA

This week opens up regular play for the Lake Superior State Lakers, and it just so happens to be against in-state, in-U.P. rivals the Northern Michigan University Wildcats in a home-and-home non-conference set. Both teams are coming off of disappointing seasons and both have had some major changes in the locker room.  But both teams have the same goals on their minds: First, win the Cappo Cup. Second, get into the NCAA tournament.

Wild(cat) changes in Marquette:

The Wildcats made the WCHA playoffs as the 8th seed and took the eventual champions, Bemidji State, to three games.  Just making the playoffs was an accomplishment for Northern Michigan, however, as very little went right for the ‘Cats in the first half of the season.  As a result, NMU stood with a woeful 4-16-2 overall record at the start of 2017.  It took the patented Walt Kyle second half turnaround to get the Wildcats to even contend for a playoff spot.  In addition, they tied Wisconsin(B1G) 2-2 in two non-conference series; and a nine game winning streak, sprinkled with a five game shutout streak for goalie Atte Tolvanen, which fell just short of former Lake State star goalie Blaine Lacher. Tolvanen went for 339:05 without a goal against, where Lacher went 375:01 in route to the 1994 NCAA championship.

Lucky for NMU, Tolvanen will be coming back for what will be his junior season. Also returning is senior Robbie Payne, who had the second most points on the team behind the now graduated Dominik Shine. On the blueline, sophomore Philip Beaulieu and Jordan Klimek return.

Northern will also be carrying seven freshman this year: one goalie, two defensemen and four forwards. They will have to step up and help lift this team up.

The major news in the offseason was the firing of head coach Walt Kyle. There was some controversy surrounding Kyle’s departure that came out in the days that followed the announcement, but they hired former Minnesota assistant coach Grant Potulny, who helped the Gophers to a half-dozen regular season championships and nearly as many NCAA appearances. I think everyone who follows college hockey knows just how strong Minnesota has been, so this hiring should have Northern fans excited.

 

Lakers setting sail for playoffs

If you just looked at the first month of the 2016-2017 season, you would have expected the Lakers to make it to the WCHA finals, or at least host a game on their home ice. The Lakers started the season 5-0 against NCAA opponents, outscoring the opposition 27-11 in that time, and 30-15 for the month of October. November started the same way, beating Minnesota State 5-1, but after this, the team was inconsistent but showed flashes of brilliance before being trounced by Michigan Tech in the WCHA quarterfinals, being outscored 14-4 in two games.

The Lakers have had their fair share of changes in the offseason. Last year’s leading goal scorer, sophomore Mitch Hults, left the Lakers at the end of the season to join the San Diego Gulls of the American Hockey League. Likewise, standout blueliner Kristofers Bindulis joined the Hershey Bears of the AHL following the season finale. Luke Morgan transferred to Michigan after only one year with the Lakers after netting 22 points in 36 games. Goaltender Gordy Deifel used his last year of eligibility and is now with the Utah Grizzlies of the ECHL.

Returning players include forwards J.T Henke, Diego Cuglietta and Anthony Nellis, who each had outstanding seasons and Collin Saccoman will be anchoring the blueline alongside the newly named captain Aiden Wright. Saccoman ended last season tied for fourth in blocked shots across the entire NCAA with 94 blocked shots, which is 2.61 blocks per games played.

Once again the Lakers have their fair share of freshman, with eight freshmen and one sophomore transfer coming in. Included in these players are two goalies, Mareks Mitens and Roman Bengert, each have impressive resumes, having been named Goaltender of the Year in each of their leagues, and Mitens being named the NAHL MVP after a record –setting season.

The blueline will have four new members battling each week for a spot, and they are some big guys, averaging a height of nearly 6’3.

Three players join the forward corp, with Hampus Erikkson being the most noteable standing at 6’6”. Hailing from Sweden, Erikkson joined the Fairbanks Ice Dogs of the NAHL last season, Posting 17-38=55 points in 57 regular season outings. He had 2-6=8 in 7 playoff games. The Lakers hope that will transition to the NCAA level.

With just these notable examples, this writer believes that the Lakers have shore up some of the deficiencies that many fans thought they would have after the losses from last season.

Give me a Cup of that Cappo:

The Cappo Cup was first awarded by the late Reverend Monsignor Louis Cappo, a pastor from Baltic, MI, but spent much of his life along the shores of Lake Superior. He was a member of the LSSU Board of Trustees, was given the Northern Michigan University President’s Award; These are what links the two schools, and what lead to him creating the Cappo Cup in 1991.

The cup goes to whichever team takes either 1) the season series or in the event of a tie 2)outscores opponents during the season series. NMU holds the series record, by our count of 15-9.

The puck drops Friday at 7:07 PM at the Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Sainte Marie, MI & Saturday at 7:00 PM at the Berry Events Center in Marquette, MI. Both games can be heard both locally and on the net at 99.5 YesFM.