Mike Barrett, LSSULakers.com
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — The Lake Superior State men's hockey team is getting set to open the home portion of their 2018-19 season. Lake State, under 5th year head coach Damon Whitten, are preparing to host the Nipissing University Lakers in an exhibition series this coming weekend, with games on Friday, October 12th and Saturday, October 13th. Both games are set for a 7 p.m. puck drop at the Taffy Abel Arena on the campus of Lake Superior State University. Tickets for both games this weekend are on sale for a special price of $3.50 online only. This offer will not be available at the box office.
Following this series, the Lakers will open their conference schedule with a trip to Huntsville, Alabama to take on the University of Alabama in Huntsville Chargers in Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) action.
Lake Superior opened the season a bit earlier than most of college hockey. While the majority of the country played exhibition games (much like what the Lakers will do this weekend), Lake Superior travelled to North Andover, Massachusetts for a two game set against the Merrimack Warriors. The Lakers (2-0-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) swept the Warriors (0-2-0, 0-0-0 Hockey East) in a series that was filled with intrigue.
The Lakers won the Saturday game 5-4 on a penalty shot goal by senior forward Anthony Nellis. On Sunday, junior Max Humitz had the only goal of the game, as Lake Superior rode a 31 save shutout from sophomore goaltender Mareks Mitens to a 1-0 win, spoiling the debut of new Merrimack coach Scott Borek. Borek, who coached at Lake Superior from 1996-2001 and compiled a 76-94-15 record, was hired as coach of the Warriors during the off season.
Nipissing played one game last weekend, a 5-2 loss to the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. In that game, goaltender Brent Moran made 42 saves on 47 shots for the Lakers, as the Ridgebacks rode a three goal second period to the win.
About the Lake Superior State Lakers
Lake Superior sees five of its top six scorers return from last season's 10-22-4 campaign. The Lakers bring a trio of productive senior forwards in Diego Cuglietta, Gage Torrel and Anthony Nellis, all of whom have had at least two double-digit point seasons in their time in Sault Ste. Marie. In addition, leading goal scorer Max Humitz returns.
On defense, Collin Saccoman and Steven Ruggiero will headline a defensive corps that saw three players graduate. Between the pipes, Nick Kossoff returns for his senior season. The native of West Des Moines, Iowa, had a record of 7-12-2, sporting a 2.98 goals against average (GAA) and a .911 save percentage (SV%). Mareks Mitens appeared in 19 games for Lake Superior, going 3-10-2, putting together a 3.46 GAA and a .897 SV%.
Besides the 2-0-0 start, some of the Lakers' individual efforts have received attention. Earlier this week, the WCHA announced the recipients of its weekly awards. Mitens was name Goaltender of the Week for his Sunday performance, while forward Pierre-Luc Veillette was honored with Rooke of the Week accolades for his two assists during the weekend. In addition, the penalty shot game winner from Nellis was named by U.S. College Hockey Online as the top play of the week.
This season, the Lakers will play 18 homes games (14 conference, 2 non-conference and 2 exhibition). In non-conference play, Lake Superior will host Michigan for the first time since the two were league foes in the now-defunct Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA). They will also compete in the Great Lakes Invitational (GLI) holiday tourney in Detroit for the first time since 1999.
About the Nipissing Lakers
An interesting situation arises when other Lake Superior State teams play their Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) foe Grand Valley State. Both schools call themselves the Lakers, which leads to some confusion. The hockey team will get a taste of that this weekend, as Nipissing also uses the moniker of Lakers.
Last season, Nipissing went 9-17-4 overall. Their top four forwards from last season (the only four to score double digit points) all return as seniors this year, including 14 goal scorer Colin Campbell. On defense, the team's top scoring blueliner, Jimmy McDowell, did not return.
In net, the Lakers have four goaltenders to choose from. Of the returnees, Domenic Graham saw the most action last year, starting in 15 games and going 6-9-0 in the process. He posted a 3.01 GAA, but a .919 SV%. Moran, who started the game against OUIT last weekend, is the lone newcomer of the four.
Following this weekend, Lake Superior will have a bye before commencing WCHA games against Alabama Huntsville. The Chargers, like the Lakers, started the season last weekend where they fell 5-1 and 4-0 to Miami University. By the time October 26th and 27th roll around, Huntsville will have played a home series against Arizona State and one game each on the road against Colorado College and Denver. Faceoff for the Lakers and Chargers will be 8:07 p.m. EST both nights.
Regular tickets are $14 for adults, $10 for seniors and $7 for children (17 and under). LSSU students receive free admission and must possess a valid student ID. Tickets against Nipissing are $10 for adults, $6 seniors, and $5 children. Tickets for the University of Michigan are $20 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $10 children. For tickets, call or visit the Norris Center Ticket Office, 906-635-2602. Fans can also now order their tickets online at lssulakerstickets.
Every home game and all road games against conference opponents will be available via live stream hosted by Flo Sports on WCHA.tv.
Season tickets for the 2018-19 Laker Hockey season, which includes an action-packed fall, are available online or at Norris Center Guest Services.
This year's season-ticket packages are $207 for adults and $104 for children 17-and-under. Season tickets can be purchased or renewed at the Student Activity Center Help Desk during the Norris Center's normal operational hours, or by calling (906) 635-2601. Visit lssulakerstickets.
The season ticket package includes three playoff games.
Season tickets can be purchased online through lssulakerstickets.
Laker Hockey Show
Every week Bill Crawford along with head coach Damon Whitten, the assistant coaches and players take a look at the Laker Hockey program. A review of past games, a look ahead to future action and more information and insight on the team and players can be heard on each broadcast. The show is live from The Antlers Restaurant on East Portage Avenue every Tuesday night starting at 6 p.m. and can be heard on WKNW ESPN Radio 1400.
Soo Blue Liners
The Soo Blue Liners commenced operations as a support group in 1982-83 with a membership of 75 people. The organization was developed for the specific purpose of supporting Laker hockey.
Soo Blue Liners memberships are: $5 college students, $15 single members, $25 couples, $30 families. Membership applications are available at the Norris Center Ticket Office or by calling (906) 248-5732.
The LSSU Laker Club is the principle fundraising initiative for athletics at Lake Superior State University. With the help of a strong and active membership, the club will work to increase fan support at all LSSU athletic events. Membership also supports athletes in the classroom through Laker Club funded scholarships. LSSU athletes are high achievers inside and outside of the classroom.