SAULT STE. MARIE – Lake Superior struck early and often, as they routed the U.S. National Team Development Program’s Under 18 squad 6-0 in exhibition play at the Taffy Abel Arena.
“I thought it was a good, quality win for us tonight,” said Lakers head coach Damon Whitten. “We showed good puck skills and played strong.”
Making his return to the lineup was defenseman Collin Saccoman. Saccoman had been out since the series against Denver.
“We had the idea of letting him play a little bit tonight to get back into the swing of things, and he showed that he looks to be ready,” remarked Whitten.
Lake Superior opened the scoring with a goal from Anthony Nellis less than two minutes into the contest. Nellis’ shot was mishandled by netminder Jonathan Mor, as it bounced off of his pads a couple of times and landed in the net.
Lake State made it 2-0 when Gage Torrel tipped a wide-angle shot behind Mor. The goal came as Matt McArdle was off for boarding.
The Lakers climbed ahead by three goals when Torrel netted his second goal of the afternoon. The forward from Monticello, Minnesota, got in all alone on Mor and put the puck top shelf over the shoulder.
Team USA appeared to get a goal back, but no goal was called on the ice due to Lakers goalie Mareks Mitens being rammed into the net. A brief review verified the call on the ice.
With Bode Wilde off on a double-minor late in the second, J.T. Henke batted the puck past Mor with the handle of his stick with 0:01.1 left on the clock. The goal was reviewed and upheld, sending the Lakers to the dressing room up 4-0.
The onslaught continued as Max Humitz made the score 5-0. Lake Superior added one more goal, this time from Bryan Basilico, as the Lakers kept the Under-18’s off the scoresheet for a 6-0 final score.
Despite even play throughout, Seth Appert’s crew could not get anything going, as Mitens turned away all 24 shots he faced to claim the win. Mor made 20 saves on 26 shots in defeat.
“Mitens looked very good for us tonight,” said Whitten. “Nellis was great with his two goals, as was Torrel. He’s been somewhat snake bitten lately, so it was good for him to gain some confidence.”
In addition to the shortie by Torrel, Lake Superior was 1 for 5 on the man advantage. Team USA went 0 for 4.
Only two Laker skaters (William Riedell and Ian Johnston) finished the day even. Senior defenseman Ryan Renz was +5, and was also on the ice for the power play goal by Nellis.
A special promotion was put on for the game, as all families (no size limit) were admitted to the game for $13, provided they purchased a ticket that day. As a result, many sizable families were able to attend the game for a very low price.
“It was a great win for the area families and for the casual fan,” commented Whitten. “Hopefully we will be able to draw many of them back next weekend.”
Lake State resumes Western Collegiate Hockey Association play next weekend, when the University of Alaska comes to town. The Nanooks will come in from a home series against Michigan Tech. Puck drop is at 7:07 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday.