Tag: series preview

Series Preview: Lake Superior State @ Merrimack

Merrimack: 0-0-0

LSSU: 0-0-0

 

Merrimack’s Mother is making Scott Borek Marry Merrimack

This weekend will have a couple of familiar faces for long time Laker fans. Former LSSU bench boss Scott Borek (LSSU record of 76-94-15 between 1996-2001) is now the head coach of the Merrimack Warriors, after spending some time as an assistant at the University of New Hampshire (2002-2015) & most recently with Providence (2015-2018). 

Joining him on the bench is recent LSSU grad and defenseman Matt McArdle. McArdle while with the Lakers played in 83 games and tallied a total of 10 points. He was able to transfer as a graduate at the end of last season, and it appears he moved back east, though I’d like to believe he just got a bit confused since both the Warriors and Lakers wear the same colored uniforms.

The Warriors lost their top 3 point scorers last season, but looks like they, like the Lakers, return all three of their goaltenders. There isn’t much else to be said about this team, with it being the first weekend of the season, but they do have a Winnipeg draft pick on their team in Johnathan Kovacevic (74th overall, 2017), but they were picked to be dead last in the Hockey East.

 

“There’s this neat little lass and her name is (Merrimack)/Make no mistake, she’s the girl I’m gonna track”

After a four year contract extension this past summer, head coach Damon Whitten is back for his fifth year behind the Laker’s bench. He is joined again by long time NHLer Mike York and newly hired Zack Cisek. The trio have a few things in common: They are all from down state & are graduates of Michigan State. This has nothing to do with the series, but it is a ‘fun’ fact.

I’m going to opt to link to our season preview here rather than talk about who the Lakers are returning and such (remember, work smart, not hard). 

Now, while the Lakers were not listed as last in the WCHA in either the coach’s or media polls (that honor went to Alaska-Anchorage), there are many that think the Lakers will again miss playoffs this year, so both of these teams have that in common. This weekend’s series will be a good indicator as to what we may expect to see for the rest of the season. But it is important to remember that it’s also a 15 hour bus ride for our boys in blue.

This is also the first time since playing Vermont in the Catamount Cup in 2015-2016 that the Lakers have seen a Hockey East team, and the first series since Notre Dame in 2014-2015.

 

For you Laker fans out east, the games will be held at the J. Thom Lawler Rink in North Andover, MA at 7pm Saturday and 4pm Sunday. For those who cannot go to the game, like most of us, YesFM will be streaming the games at http://www.yesfm.net, though I am not sure if it will be the Merrimack feed or if the great Bill Crawford is making the journey. In order to stream the game, you will need to purchase a 24 hour pass from https://merrimackathletics.com/watch/, which will cost $6.95. It also appears that Merrimack is offering the audio for this weekend’s series for free if there are any issues with the YesFM stream.

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 – 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.

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.

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.