Tag: lake state

Series Preview: Alaska Anchorage at Lake Superior State

Alaska Anchorage – 2016: 7-21-6 2017: 0-5-1

Lake Superior State: 2016: 11-18-7 2017: 1-5-2

 

Preying Mathas

There are two things each of these two teams have in common this season: their record and starting goalie.  Alaska Anchorage has started senior Olivier Mantha in all six of their games this season where he has faced 216 shots in 356:05 minutes in net, which is good for #13 in the country for shots faced (Nick Kossoff of the Lakers sits at #15, with 211 shots faced in 321:43 minutes in net). Despite the scores and records, Mantha is having a pretty good year with such a tough schedule. They opened up at home against NCHC powerhouse North Dakota, forcing a 1-1 tie. The Sea Wolves lost in overtime the next night 3-2, allowing 4 goals in 78 shots. The next weekend they travelled to Colorado College to take on the Tigers. They lost 6-1 and 3-2 on the weekend, that Saturday night score is impressive, considering that the Tigers are now 5-2 on the season, splitting games with some really good teams. If Mantha was backstopping a more competitive team in the conference, like a Michigan Tech or Mankato (I would say Bemidji, but trying to decide between Bitzer and Mantha would be an impossible decision), I think that the WCHA could bring home a national championship.

But the rest of the team is another story. They have not allowed as many goals or shots on goal, but as a team they are sitting with the lowest Corsi For % in even strength & “close” , and for the overall totals. Lake State does sit right above them, however.

(Lake) Superior State of Sorrow

This season has not lived up to our expectations. They have been outshot 195 to 70 in the last two weekends, with two periods (one each weekend) only having a single shot on net. There seems to be a few injuries on the blue line, but that doesn’t really excuse the excessive shots on net.

The Lakers lead the nation on shots on goal against, with 332 (UAA had 219). This is dead last in the nation, ahead of Arizona State by 45 SOG. In contrast they only shot the puck on net 166 times (UAA has 150). In case you didn’t notice it, that is 2:1 SOGA:SOGF.

We’ve talked about it as a group here at Laker Hockey Blog but despite it only being the 9th and 10th  game of the year for the Lakers, and 7th & 8th games of the year for UAA, it feels like a must win series for both teams if they want to 1) make the playoffs and 2) build momentum to turn their seasons around since the rest of the season will not get any easier for both teams.

I think it’s pretty obvious what the key to success is this weekend for the Lakers: Get shots on net and limit shot attempts from the Sea Wolves. Basic hockey. This is the time for fundamentals, not fancy drop passes, zone entries or clears.

Look for this game to be one of:

  • High scoring
  • High SOG
  • A exercise in futility

No matter which team you will be rooting for this weekend, I think we may all agree that copious amounts of alcohol will be required to get through it.

This slugfest can be seen locally at the Taffy Abel Arena, with both Friday and Saturday night games starting at 7:07pm. They can be heard locally on 99.5 YesFM, online at  www.yesfm.net, or on the TuneIn app. For those fans not in the area, or cannot make it to the arena but still want to watch the action, both games will be available on www.WCHA.tv.

Series Preview: Lake Superior State at #1 Denver

 

Denver: 2016 33-7-4 2017: 1-0-1

LSSU 2016 11-18-7 2017 1-2-1

 

Crimson and Golder, Over and Over….

The Denver Pioneers are coming off an outstanding 2016-2017 season having won their eighth national championship, their first since back to back wins in 2004 & 2005, and this weekend will be their first weekend back at Magness Arena this season.

The clear-cut #1 team did take a big hit after the tournament, losing 9 seniors, including their captain Will Butcher (New Jersey Devils). They are, however, returning Jarid Lukosevicius, who was the first player since his own head coach to record a hat trick in a championship game. His coach, Jim Montgomery, played for Maine in college, and recorded his hat trick against the team they will be facing this weekend: the Lake Superior State Lakers in 1993. Maine won that game & their first championship in school history.

After splitting with Notre Dame on the weekend, the Pioneers will be looking for a sweep of the Lakers when they hang their banner this weekend.

Upper Peninsula of Mitens-igan

There is some good news going into this weekend: The Lakers and the Pioneers both have the same amount of wins this season.

Joking aside, last Saturday we had our first real look at who could be our starting goaltender for the rest of the year (and hopefully more) – Mareks Mitens. Mitens is coming off a record setting year in the NAHL, but when we first saw him during the blue-gold scrimmage, he didn’t look great. I don’t know what happened in the last few weeks, but he stopped 40 of 42 shots on net against a good Michigan Tech team, forcing a tie with an eventual loss in the shootout.

JT Henke was named the WCHA Offensive Player of the Week after a 5 point weekend (1-4=5), being in on each one of the 5 goals the Lakers had last weekend.

Being able to keep pace with a really good Michigan Tech team bodes well for boys in blue, as Tech has been the preverbial monkey on the Lakers back since joining the WCHA, having only won once, under former coach Jim Roque, and forcing a 1-1 tie back in 2015. One game was a 4-2 loss, with the others being blowouts.

This bodes well for the Lakers. Despite taking only one point last weekend, they are closing the gap on their rivals. That should be the message in the locker room this weekend. They are improving, and to this author, the team, nearly as a whole, has been passing the eye test. They have solid goaltending in Kossoff and Mitens (we have not seen Lukenda or Bengert in net since the scrimmage – or Bengert in uniform since), the blue line has been tightened, and the offense is clicking. Their Power Play is third in the nation for goals.

The Lakers, in all honesty, don’t have much to lose this weekend. Yes, the WCHA non-conference record would suffer, but I doubt many people are expecting the Lakers to win this weekend; even the most optimistic fan would likely say they just hope they play a good game, and keep the score close. But the Lakers have everything to gain this weekend. Coming out with a win on Friday may put doubts into the Pioneers heads, allowing them to make mistakes Saturday night. A win this weekend would force the rest of the league to take notice of Lake State again.

A win would give the team confidence that they can win despite the last twenty years that says the contrary.

Games this weekend start at 9:05pm eastern time. They can be heard locally on 99.5 YesFM, or online at http://1043thefan.com/. Please note that YesFM will not be streaming it online.

Game can also be streamed through NCHC.tv (15.95/day for just Denver).