BEMIDJI, Minn. – Looking for their first sweep of the season, the Lake Superior State Lakers made a rather unconventional move in net.
A night after Nick Kossoff picked up the first shutout for the Lakers in nearly two seasons, Freshman Mareks Mitens got the nod from head coach Damon Whitten.
The native of Ventspils, Latvia, showed he was equal to the task, stopping all 36 shots, as the Lakers (8-20-4, 6-15-3 WCHA) posted back to back 2-0 shutouts of Bemidji State in a series sweep.
With the win, the Lakers are hoping to propel themselves back into playoff positioning. Coming into the game, they trailed the Alaska Nanooks by 8 points, as the Nanooks, like the Lakers, won the night before.
The opening period had the Beavers (14-10-6, 11-7-4-2 WCHA) swarming, outshooting the Lakers 13-3. Mitens was sharp throughout, as the game remained scoreless after 20 minutes.
Max Humitz got Lake Superior on the board with a goal on a delayed penalty to BSU’s Adam Brody. Humitz redirected a puck past Beavers goaltender Michael Bitzer for a 1-0 lead.
Picking up assists on Humitz’s goal were Collin Saccoman and Yuki Miura. For Miura, it was his first point as a Laker.
Down a goal going into the final stanza, Bemidji State continued peppering Mitens with shots. The freshman continued turning away shot after shot.
The Beavers appeared to tie the game when Aaron Miller drilled a puck past Mitens. Upon further review, however, it was ruled that Mitens had been interfered with on the play, thus negating the goal.
Like last night, Bemidji State took an untimely penalty late, as Myles Fitzgerald was called for tripping with just 2:15 to play. Rolling the dice, coach Tom Serratore pulled Bitzer, evening up the skaters.
After a couple of long shots missed the net and iced the puck, Diego Cuglietta iced the game away with an empty netter at the 19:38 mark, sealing the Lakers’ fate.
The last time Lake Superior had back to back shutouts was in the 2012-13 season. Kevin Murdock shut out Northern Michigan in the final game of the regular, followed by Kevin Kapalka shutting out Bowling Green in the first game of the CCHA Conference Tournament.
To find the last time the Lakers were not scored upon in a series, one must go back to November of 2010. Kevin Kapalka had back to back blanking of Ferris State on 12th and 13th of that month.