Mike Barrett, LSSULakers.com
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — This weekend, the Lake Superior State men's hockey team, under head coach Damon Whitten, opens the regular season portion of their home schedule with a Great Lake State Weekend (GLSW) series against the University of Michigan. Puck drop for the Friday game against the Wolverines 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 (4-0-0, 2-0-0 WCHA) is coming off of a weekend sweep of the Alabama Huntsville Chargers. The Lakers held off a rally by the Chargers for a 4-3 win on Friday night before collecting a 2-1 come from behind victory on Saturday.
Michigan (3-2-0, 0-0-0 Big Ten) enters the weekend ranked 12th in the U.S. College Hockey Online.com poll. The Wolverines played St. Lawrence last weekend in Ann Arbor, sweeping the Saints with 3-0 and 3-1 final scores.
About the Lakers
So far on the young season, Lake Superior has collected four straight wins. An opening weekend sweep at Merrimack was followed by last weekend's sweep of Alabama Huntsville. In the two weekends that separated the series, the Lakers played an exhibition set against Nipissing, winning both games.
Lake Superior sees five of its top six scorers return from last season's 10-22-4 campaign. Of those five, all of them have at least 2 points on the season, with senior Anthony Nellis leading the way with 3 goals and 2 assists. Also making their mark on the score sheet are junior Brayden Gelsinger (2-2—4), senior Gage Torrel (0-4—4) and senior Diego Cuglietta (2-0—2).
On defense, Collin Saccoman (1-1—2) and Steven Ruggiero (0-0—0) headline a defensive corps that has three players with points so far, including freshman Jacob Nordqvist (0-3—3) and sophomore Lukas Kälble (0-2—2). Between the pipes, Nick Kossoff and Mareks Mitens have split the starts in net so far, with each producing two wins. Thru four games, Kossoff has a 3.50 goals against average (GAA) and a .883 save percentage (SV%), while Mitens is sporting a 0.50 GAA and a .967 SV%.
Special teams have played their part so far this season. Lake Superior has gone 3 for 13 on the power play and has allowed 3 goals on 22 penalty kills.
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 Wolverines
Michigan came into this season after a 22-15-3 season and a trip to the Frozen Four. Head coach Mel Pearson, after spending six seasons coaching his alma mater Michigan Tech, returned to Ann Arbor last season, where he had been an assistant coach under Red Berenson for 22 years.
The Wolverines had seven players with 20 points or more last season, with Cooper Marody (16-35—51) leading the way. Marody, along with seniors Tony Calderone (25-20—45) and Dexter Dancs (12-16—28) departed the team following last season. Of the returning four, Josh Norris (8-15—23 last season) is leading the team with 3 goals and 5 assists, followed by Quinn Hughes (2-4—6) and Joseph Cecconi (0-6—6).
Between the pipes, Hayden Lavigne (18-11-3, 2.81 GAA, .908 SV% in 2017-18) returns for his junior campaign. So far, Lavigne (3.04 GAA, .864 SV%) and freshman Strauss Mann (3.07 GAA, .860 SV%) are putting up virtually identical numbers.
Michigan began the season ranked 4th in the USCHO.com poll, but have fallen in the poll every weekend so far.
Following this weekend, Lake Superior will remain at home to take on the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The Nanooks (0-7-1, 0-2-0 WCHA) are idle this coming weekend after dropping a weekend series on the road to Minnesota State. Afterwards, the Lakers will hit the road to take on Bowling Green State.
Tickets for this series only are $20 for adults, $16 for seniors and $10 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.