Lakers skate past Alabama-Huntsville in series opener

The Lakers celebrate a goal against the Chargers during the 2016-17 season (Mike Barrett/LakerHockeyBlog)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Tied at the bottom of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) standings with the Alaska schools, the Lake Superior State hockey team picked up a much-needed victory over the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers on Friday night.  The Lakers (3-7-3, 2-3-2 WCHA) scored two first period goals, as they skated past the Chargers (3-7-1, 2-2-1 WCHA) 3-1 at the Von Braun Center.

Lake Superior struck first on a power tally from junior Diego Cuglietta.  With a boarding penalty to Josh Kestner, Cuglietta earned his fourth goal of the year, with assists going to senior defenseman Kyle Chatham and freshman forward Hampus Erikkson.

Late in the opening session, senior captain Aiden Wright rifled a shot at Charger netminder Jordan Uhelski.  Uhelski made the initial save, but Jake Hand collected the rebound and buried it, earning his fourth of the season.  This all came on a 4 on 4, as Christian Rajic and Brayden Gelsinger had been called for coinciding minor penalties.

Penalties were not in short supply as the second period, as 17 minutes were served between the two clubs.  The penalties forced Lake Superior into some tough situations, as Matt McArdle served a 5 minute major for grasping the facemask.  Thanks to a coinciding roughing penalty to UAH’s Brennan Saulnier, the Laker PK unit only had 3 minutes of major penalty to kill.

The Chargers cut into the Lakers’ lead with 0:53 left in the second period.  Madison Dunn put the puck in the net to make the score 2-1 Lakers.  A lengthy review took place, as Tyler Poulsen had collided with Laker goalkeeper Nick Kossoff, resulting in him being out of position.  Nevertheless, the goal stood.

After outshooting Huntsville 11-7 in the first period, the Chargers flipped the script on Lake Superior, outshooting them 17-6.  Kossoff stood tall for the Lakers, limiting the damage to just the Dunn goal.

The parade to the sin bin continued in the third period.  Lake Superior earned a 5 on 3 opportunity for 1:14.  Uhelski and the Huntsville penalty killers prevented the Lakers from capitalizing.

Late in the period, Wright was called for tripping.   The scenario from last Saturday, in which the Chargers tied the game in the final second of regulation thanks to two extra attackers, appeared to be replicating itself.  In spite of this, Lake Superior prevented Huntsville from repeating their late game magic, as Max Humitz iced the game with an empty netter with eight ticks left on the board.

Kossoff stood strong for the Lakers and head coach Damon Whiten.  The junior from West Des Moines, Iowa, made 26 saves.  His counterpart Uhelski had 19 saves in defeat.

Although he did not show up on the box score, J.T. Henke kept Uhelski busy, with 5 shots on net.  In addition to his first period goal, Cuglietta was 12-10 in the faceoff circle.

Despite all of the penalties, only one power play goal was scored in the game, as Lake Superior went 1 for 6, while the Chargers were 0 for 7.  Hand’s goal late in the first was on a 4 on 4, while the empty netter by Humitz was also a shortie.