Mike Barrett, LSSULakers.com
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — The Lake Superior State men's hockey team will begin the conference portion of their 2018-19 schedule this weekend when they travel to Huntsville, Alabama to take on the Chargers of The University of Alabama in Huntsville. Opening faceoff for the games on Friday, October 26th and Saturday, October 27th, is set for 8:07 p.m. EST at the Von Braun Center.
Following this series, the Lakers will host the University of Michigan for a non-conference set coinciding with Great Lake State Weekend (GLSW). Puck drop for the Friday game is at 7:37 p.m. EST, while the Saturday game will commence at 7:07 p.m. EST at the Taffy Abel Arena.
Lake Superior (2-0-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) opened the season with a road sweep against the Merrimack Warriors. The Lakers prevailed 5-4 on Saturday before claiming a 1-0 win Sunday for the sweep. Since then, Lake Superior has hosted an exhibition series against Nipissing University, collecting 3-1 and 4-0 wins in the process.
Alabama Huntsville (0-6-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) has had a rocky start to the season. Their troubles were only compounded with a home sweep at the hands of independent Arizona State. The Sun Devils (4-2-0) claimed a 2-1 win in Huntsville on Friday before skating to a 5-1 win the following night.
About the 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%.
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 Chargers
Last season, the Chargers finished 12-23-2 overall, going 10-16-2-1 in league play. A seventh place finish earned them a berth in the WCHA Tournament for the first time since 2014-15. Facing Northern Michigan in the Quarterfinals, Alabama Huntsville stretched the series to three games, ultimately falling to the Wildcats.
Alabama Huntsville enters the weekend with the worst goal differential in the country. They have allowed 23 goals in six games while scoring just 3 of their own. A string of three straight shutouts helped set a school record for longest scoring drought at 254:42. After scoring a goal in the first period of their season opener at Miami, the Chargers were shutout by the RedHawks, Colorado College and Denver before breaking thru in the 2nd period against the Sun Devils.
The Chargers are feeling the losses of forwards Brennan Saulnier and Josh Kestner, among others. Kestner alone had 24 goals, tied for 6th best in the nation. Saulnier had 15 points, but was more notable for the 121 penalty minutes he took last season. Also lost to graduation were forward Max McHugh, defenders Richard Buri (1-3—4) and Cody Champagne (0-2—2) and goaltender Jordan Uhelski (12-18-2, 3.05 GAA, .907 SV%).
As a result of the scoring drought, no Charger player has more than 1 point on the season so far. Senior forward Hans Gorowsky, junior forward Austin Beaulieu and freshman forward Jack Jeffers each have a goal for UAH. Forwards Tyler Poulsen (9-17—26 last season) and Christian Rajic (9-6—15 last season) as well as defenseman Kurt Gosselin (5-11—16 last year) will look to regain the scoring touch they exhibited a season ago.
In net, head coach Mike Corbett has utilized senior Jake Theut and sophomore Mark Sinclair in three games apiece. Sinclair has posted a 2.69 GAA and a .923 SV%. Theut presently has a 5.00 GAA and a .884 SV%. Sinclair, a native of Dundas, Ontario, was the goalie of record in two one goal defeats — 1-0 versus Colorado College and 2-1 against Arizona State.
Following this weekend, Lake Superior will return to the Taffy Abel Arena for Great Lake State Weekend. The Lakers will host Michigan for the first time since the CCHA dissolved in 2013. The Lakers and Wolverines played a series in Ann Arbor during the 2016-17 season, in which the squads split the weekend. As both squads will partake in the GLI, it is possible they will meet for a third game during that tournament. Lake Superior will be at home the following weekend as well, playing host to league foe Alaska.
Tickets for most games 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. For tickets, call or visit the Norris Center Ticket Office at (906) 635- 2602. Fans can also now order their tickets online at lssulakerstickets.universitytickets.com and pick them up at will call before a game or during regular business hours.
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 and winter, 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.universitytickets.com to order online.
The season ticket package includes three playoff games.
Season tickets can be purchased online through lssulakerstickets.universitytickets.com or at the Norris Center Guest Services Desk. LSSU faculty/staff and retirees must pick up tickets at the Norris Center.
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.