Series Preview: #18 Lake Superior State University @ #6 Minnesota State-Mankato

LSSU: 14-6-2

MSUM: 18-5-1

 

Purple Posse

So, we meet again, Mankato. Since the realignment, the Mavericks have had the Lakers number. Of course, Lake State hopes that changes this weekend, but looking at Minnesota State’s record of 18-5-1, and a perfect 11-0-0 at home, that this weekend will be another battle.

Surprisingly, the Maverick’s top scorers are either juniors or sophomores. Junior forwards Marc Michaelis and Parker Tuomie top this list, with 26 and 22 points respectively, followed by sophomore forward Jared Spooner at 21 points.

In net, Freshman Dryden McKay has won the starting role, having played in 17 games with a 11-4-1 record, 2.05 GAA and a .919 Save %. Behind him is senior Mathias Israelsson who has played in 9 games this season, 7-1-0 record, with 1.74 GAA and a .908 Save%.

On a side note, they’ve out of the 12 series they’ve played as part of the regular season, half of them have been against ranked opponents (Ferris x2, Bemidji, UAA, Michigan Tech and Alaska were unranked). They dropped 1 game against any of those opponents, Saturday night at Bemidji.  The only series they were swept in was against the then #12 Bowling Green in December. They also lost against Minnesota Duluth and tied against Arizona State at the Desert Hockey Classic, and then #16 North Dakota early in the season.

Blue Bombshells Bombast the Best

Minnesota State-Mankato: The real test to any season. This season, however, having been ranked on and off throughout the season, becoming the new GLI champions, and being on a 8-game unbeaten streak, Mankato will be the ultimate gut check. Remember: Six of those wins came from opponents #52 or lower in the pairwise. The other two are #30 Michigan State and #31 Michigan Tech.

The top point getters stay the same, except Max Humitz breaks into the top. Diego Cuglietta and Anthony Nellis lead with 23 and 22 points respectively, with Humitz bringing up the rear at 19. Both Cuglietta and Nellis  have also been nominated for the Hobey Baker Award – you can vote for them here (https://www.hobeybaker.com/vote) , and they also have a shot at breaking 100 points, though by my math, Humitz should be the next 100 point scorer next season.

Puck drops at 7:07pm CST, so 8:07 pm both Friday and Saturday nights in Mankato. Locally it can be heard on 99.5 YESFm, or on it’s website stream or on Tunein. You can see the game on FloHockey.tv for a nominal fee.

Gallery: Lakers vs Alabama Huntsville

Shots from the Lakers’ recent series against the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville. The Lakers prevailed on Friday night with a 7-2 win, before a 1-1 tie on Saturday that saw the Chargers collect 2 of 3 league points in a shootout.

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Series Preview: University of Alabama-Huntsville @ #18 Lake Superior State

 

University of Alabama-Huntsville: 4-18-0

(#18) Lake Superior State University: 13-6-1

 

Charging Towards the Finish Line

Going into this weekend, the Chargers of Alabama-Huntsville are only two points above Ferris State for the final playoff spot. But despite their record, they do have two wins against some pretty good teams: Michigan Tech and Bemidji State. They also forced overtime last Saturday against Ferris to take an extra point.

The Chargers are led by two 8 point scorers, forwards Christian Rajic and Jesper Ohrvall, but almost all of their points are from assists. Jack Jeffers, Bauer Neudecker and Austin Beaulieu are the top goal-getters, with 5, 4, 4 respectively.

They’ve been riding sophomore goaltender Mark Sinclair this year, playing 14 games compared to senior Jake Theut’s 8 games. However, they both have 2 wins each, and nearly the same save percentage, with Sinclair having a .918 and Theut with a .917.

Lakers Looking For a Third Weekend Sweep

It’s certainly been an interesting season for the Lakers. On the road, they are almost perfect with 9-1, 2-0 at neutral sites, but are only 2-5-1 at home. They hope to make that 4-5-1 this weekend.

They are led by two 21 point scorers, seniors Diego Cuglietta and Anthony Nellis. Lukas Kaelble follows up in third with 16 points, 15 of them being assists. We’re of course hoping for the return of Max Humitz, but I personally hope that he takes all the time he needs to properly grieve, so he can come back 100%.

On the backend, Nick Kossoff has all but won the starting spot in net, having won 10 of the 13 games he’s started in. Sophomore Mareks Mitens is just on the wrong side of .500, winning 3 of the 7 games he started. Despite the way Kossoff has played, I would not be surprised if the coaching staff try to get Mitens some ice time this weekend.

 

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.

Lake Superior State @ Alaska-Anchorage

Lake Superior State: 11-6-1

Alaska Anchorage: 2-15-1

Seawolves Seek Shelter From Storm

What is there to say about this Anchorage team that other pundints haven’t said? According to the current Pairwise rankings, UA-A are dead last in the whole of the NCAA.

Their points leader has 6 total points, with 4 being goals, is Nicolas Erb-Ekholm, followed by Nils Rygaard with 3 goals, 2 assists for 5 goals. They’ve also utilized three goalies t his year, but the only one has their two wins, and that is Brody Claeys.

Former head coach Matt Thomas certainly didn’t leave any real help to first year head coach Matt Curley, and Mr. Curley has a lot of work cut out for him to get the program on the right track after dwelling in the cellar for a number of years, which is not that unlike Lake State.

Lakers Sailing the High Seas After Tournament Win

What can I say about these Lakers that hasn’t already been said on both this site & others? Overall they’ve been playing good hockey, though the games they’ve played bad in were very noticeable on the ice.

But after winning the Great Lakes Invitational, having captain Diego Cuglietta named MVP of the tournament, having three (!) players named to Player of the Week in the WCHA last week, they’ve got to be flying high, albeit not nearly as high following news of the death of Max Humitz’ father on January 1st.

Anchorage is hard place to play as they have an Olympic ice sheet, and of course the long flight. But they’ll be playing for more than themselves this weekend.

Catch the action on 99.5 YESFm, or on TuneIn, where it will likely feature the Alaska feed. You can watch the game using FloHockey.

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.

Lakers down Michigan Tech, claim GLI Championship

The Lakers celebrate with the John MacInnes Cup beneath the Great Lakes Invitational banner (Mike Barrett/LHB).

Bryan Basilico’s first goal of the year was the difference maker as Lake Superior State defeated Michigan Tech 6-3 to win their first ever Great Lakes Invitational (GLI) title.

Senior Captain Diego Cuglietta, who had four goals during the tourney, was crowned Most Valuable Player of the 54th incarnation of the GLI.  He was joined by goaltender Nick Kossoff and defenseman Collin Saccoman, who were also named to the All Tournament Team.

In a reversal of their first period against Michigan State the previous day, it was the Lakers (11-6-1, 6-5-1 WCHA) who jumped out to a two goal lead.  Cuglietta’s third goal of the tourney was followed by Hampus Erikkson’s first goal of the year just over a minute later.  Erikkson collected his own rebound off his initial shot on Huskies netminder Robert Beydoun and squeezed the puck thru on the short side.

The Huskies rallied to tie the game, with a Jake Lucchini wraparound cutting the lead in half.  Michigan Tech tied it up early in the second when a major penalty and game misconduct was assessed to Gage Torrel for contact to the head.

Nevertheless, Lake Superior regained the lead when Max Humitz drilled a shot from inside the right faceoff circle.  Humitz was aided by Cuglietta, who screened Beydoun.

Late in the period, with Michigan Tech’s Trenton Bliss off for hooking, Bryan Basilico knocked in a pass from Brayden Gelsinger right in front of the net, restoring the two goal lead.

Early in the third, the Huskies closed the gap further, as a goal by Bliss made it 4-3 Lakers.  Lake Superior appeared to make it 4-2 with a tally by Humitz, but the goal was disallowed due to a player in the crease.

With a tight game, the Lakers did what they needed to do, sustaining offensive zone pressure late, making it difficult for the Huskies to pull Beydoun.

Finally, with over a minute left, Michigan Tech coach Joey Shawhan pulled Beydoun in favour of an extra skater.  The moved backfired, as Cuglietta notched his fourth goal of the tourney with a shot from centre ice.

Rolling the dice again, Beydoun was pulled a second time, but a shot by Steven Ruggiero from deep within his own zone lightly bounced off a post and in the goal, securing a 6-3 win and GLI title.

This was the fourth time Lake Superior was invited to the GLI.  Their previous three trips saw them finish 2nd (1996), 3rd (1977) and 4th (1999).  Now they have finished in all four spots.

For the Huskies, this marks the fourth straight season in which they have fallen in the title game.  Last year saw them lose to Bowling Green, while they have also fallen to Western Michigan and Michigan (twice).

The two teams will face off again in February in WCHA play.

Gallery: Lakers vs Michigan State (GLI)

Photos from the Great Lakes Invitational matchup between Lake Superior State and Michigan State.

Edit: Working on making a proper slideshow.

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Lakers upend Michigan State in GLI semifinal, will play Tech for title

Diego Cuglietta’s overtime winner was the difference maker in a 4-3 win for Lake Superior State against Michigan State in the second semifinal game of the Great Lakes Invitational (GLI) at the home of the Detroit Red Wings.

The Spartans (6-10-1, 2-5-1 Big Ten) jumped out to a 2-0 lead with goals by Dennis Cesana and Wojciech Stachowiak.  After settling down, Lakers netminder Nick Kossoff kept Michigan State at bay, including the line of Taro Hirose, Patrick Khodorenko and Mitch Lewandowski, who have a combined 23 goals and 35 assists between them.

“We didn’t come out strong, going down by two goals was tough, but we battled back and stuck with it,” said Lakers assistant coach Mike York.

“This is a great group of kids who come into practice and work hard every day,” added York, on the team culture.

Anthony Nellis halved the Lakers’ deficit with a rocket from the high slot midway thru the first period.  Later, Cuglietta redirected a Nellis shot on the power play, tying the game in the process.

Lake Superior (10-6-1, 6-5-1 WCHA) took the lead midway thru the game when Max Humitz executed a perfect wraparound that beat Spartan goaltender John Lethemon, giving the Lakers their first lead of the afternoon.

Michigan State tied the game in the third when a Laker turnover led to a 3 on 1.  Stachowiak picked up his second of the day, which was enough to force overtime.

A faceoff in the Spartan end following an icing set up Lake Superior for the win.  Cuglietta collected a pass from Jacob Nordqvist and buried the puck behind Lethemon for the win.

Lake State is set to take on tourney host Michigan Tech in the title game tomorrow.  The game will follow the consolation game between Michigan State and Michigan, which starts at 11:30 a.m.  Michigan (6-7-5, 2-4-4-2 Big Ten) and Michigan Tech (10-7-2, 9-2-1-1 WCHA) skated to a 2-2 tie in the first semifinal game.  A shootout victory by the Huskies lifted them into the championship.

“They’re a good team, they made the tournament out of our league last year,” said York, on the Huskies.  “We’ve struggled against them in the past, but this is a new year and a new group of guys.” 

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.