SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – No. 20 Lake Superior State hockey welcomes No. 4 Minnesota State to Taffy Abel Arena for a two-game Western Collegiate Hockey Association series on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.
Last Time on the Ice
Lake Superior State (7-4-1, 4-3-1-0 WCHA) split a two-game WCHA series against Northern Michigan last weekend at Taffy Abel Arena. The Lakers defeated the Wildcats 4-2 on Friday night. On Saturday, the Lakers were edged by the Wildcats 2-1.
Thirteen different Lakers have scored a goal in 2018-19, including nine players with at least two goals. Senior left winger Anthony Nellis (8G-6A--14PTS) leads the team in goals and junior defenseman Collin Saccoman (6G-2A--8PTS) – the leading goal scorer among WCHA defensemen – is second.
In the Plus
Fourteen different Lakers have a +1 or better plus/minus rating this season. Senior right winger Gage Torrel (2G-9A--11PTS) leads the Lakers and is tied for second in the WCHA with a +8 rating, while sophomore center Hampus Eriksson (1G-5A--6PTS) is second on the team with a +7 rating and freshman defenseman Jacob Nordqvist (2G-8A--10PTS) is third at +6.
May I Assist?
Torrel leads the Lakers and is tied for fifth in the WCHA in assists with nine. Nordqvist (2G-8A--10PTS) and sophomore defenseman Lukas Kaelble (1G-8A--9PTS) are tied for the second most helpers on the team with eight each.
Senior forward Diego Cuglietta (5G-4A--9PTS) enters the weekend leading the WCHA and ranking second in the nation in faceoff wins (170). Cuglietta is winning faceoffs at a team-best .599 clip in 2018-19. As a team, the Lakers rank second in the WCHA and 10th in the nation with a .536 faceoff win percentage.
Freshman right winger Ashton Calder (1G-3A--4PTS) has four points in the Lakers' last four games played. He scored the game-winning goal for his first collegiate goal and point at then-No. 10 Bowling Green on Nov. 16 and he tallied his first multi-point game with two assists, including an assist on the game-winning goal, in Friday's 4-2 victory over Northern Michigan.
Between the Pipes
Senior netminder Nick Kossoff (5-1-1) has a 2.12 goals against average and .918 save percentage in seven starts. Sophomore Mareks Mitens (2-3-0) has a 2.83 goals against average and .899 save percentage in five starts in net.
In the Polls
The Lakers remained at No. 20 in the USCHO.com Men's Top 20 Poll for the second week in a row. It is the first time the Lakers have been ranked in consecutive USCHO polls since the polls on Dec. 30, 2013 (No. 18) and Jan. 6, 2014 (No. 19). Those rankings came at the end of the Lakers' streak of 11 consecutive polls in the top 20. The streak began on Oct. 21, 2013 and Lake Superior State ranked as high as No. 12 (Oct. 28, 2013) during the string of polls.
Prior to entering the USCHO poll on Nov. 19, the Lakers had not been ranked in the top 20 since Nov. 7, 2016 when they were also ranked 20th.
Lake State is 5-1-0 (.833) in road games this season. The Lakers are tied for both the fourth-most road wins in the nation and the fourth-best road winning percentage.
After going 0-6-2 against ranked teams in 2017-18, LSSU is off to a 2-2-0 start this season against ranked opponents. The Lakers have wins over two top-15 opponents this season: Michigan (then-No. 12) and Bowling Green (then-No. 10) on Nov. 2 and Nov. 16, respectively.
Scouting Minnesota State
No. 4 Minnesota State (10-2-0, 5-1-0-0 WCHA) comes into the series with the Lakers having split a two-game WCHA series at Bemidji State last weekend. The Mavericks won 3-2 on Friday before dropping the series finale 4-2 on Saturday. Saturday's loss ended a seven-game winning streak that had started at home against Alaska on Oct. 26.
The Mavericks are averaging 4.17 goals per game — leading the WCHA and ranking third in the nation — and 27.25 shots on goal per game. Sixteen different Mavericks have scored a goal this season — led by junior forward Marc Michaelis' (8G-8A--16PTS) eight goals. Junior forward Parker Toumie (7G-11A--18PTS) leads the team in assists and points.
In goal, senior Mathias Israelsson (7-0-0) has a 1.41 goals against average and .925 save percentage in eight starts, while freshman Dryden McKay (3-2-0) has a 3.10 goals against average and .897 save percentage in five games (four starts).
Last season, the Lakers dropped both games of a two-game home series with the Mavericks. The Lakers lost 5-1 on Dec. 8 and 7-0 on Dec. 9.
Head Coach Damon Whitten's Series Preview
LSSU partners with the United Way of the Eastern Upper Peninsula on Friday for Light the Lamp for UWEUP, where United Way staff and volunteers will be on-hand to answer questions about what's happening behind the scenes at United Way and the many partnerships and programs within the community. They will also unveil new UWEUP gear and host a raffle for a Laker Hockey jersey. On Saturday, children 17 and under wearing a sports jersey of any kind receive free admission. This offer is only valid at the box office. Tickets may be purchased at the Norris Center Ticket Office or online. For additional ticket information, call (906) 635-2602.
This weekend's games are being streamed on FloHockey.TV and can be viewed here.
Be sure to follow the Lakers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information and behind-the-scenes action.