Mitens earns shutout, Lakers earn sweep over Warriors
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — And now for something completely different.
An afternoon after Lake Superior State and Merrimack combined for nine goals, only one goal was tallied for either team, but the Lakers were the squad to come up with the difference maker as they picked up a series sweep with a 1-0 win at Lawler Rink.
Owing perhaps to the quick turnaround from the previous day, both teams were sluggish out of the gate. The game started at 4 p.m., about three hours ahead of the typical start time.
While the Lakers (2-0-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) outshot Merrimack (0-2-0, 0-0-0 Hockey East) 10-6 in the opening period, they were unable to solve Warriors goaltender Craig Pantano, who earned the start from coach Scott Borek in place of Drew Volger, who was victimized five times on just 19 shots.
Early in the second period, the Lakers’ efforts cashed in when Max Humitz, who had 13 last season to lead the team, picked up his second of the young season. Nabbing the only assist on the goal was Brayden Gelsinger.
Noticeable throughout the game was the steadfast play of sophomore goaltender Mareks Mitens. The native of Ventspilis, Latvia withstood a barrage of shots from the Warriors, who outshot the Lakers 25-14 over the final 40 minutes.
As time began to run short, the offensive pressure built for Merrimack, but Mitens held firm, making a few sensational saves along the way.
All in all, Mitens stopped all 31 shots he faced for his second career shutout. His first came on February 3rd, 2018 in a 2-0 win over Bemidji State in which he made 36 saves.
In the other crease, Pantano took the loss with 23 saves on 24 shots. One of two senior netminders for Merrimack, Pantano was sharp as well, taking a hard luck loss.
The Lakers open their home slate with a two game exhibition set against Nipissing College. Both games are set to begin at 7 p.m. A special ticket deal is available online only for $3.50 tickets to each game (in celebration of the 350th anniversary of the founding of Sault Ste. Marie).