SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Lake Superior State hockey faces Alaska in a two-game Western Collegiate Hockey Association series on Friday and Saturday at Carlson Center in Fairbanks, Alaska. Puck drop is scheduled for 11:07 p.m. EST on both days.
Last Time on the Ice
Lake Superior State (7-6-1, 4-5-1-0 WCHA) dropped both games in a two-game WCHA series against No. 3 Minnesota State. The Lakers dropped the first game 4-2 with senior center Diego Cuglietta (7-4--11) scoring both Laker goals. The series finale ended with a 3-0 score and the final goal was an empty-net goal.
WCHA Rookie of the Month
Freshman defenseman Jacob Nordqvist (2-9--11) was named the WCHA Rookie of the Month for November. He led WCHA freshmen in points (8), while tying for first in assists (6) and adding two goals in November. He also led all WCHA freshmen in plus/minus with a +6 rating and he tied for first in game-winning goals (1). In addition, he led all freshman defensemen in the nation in points and tied for first in assists and game-winning goals.
Nordqvist scored the game-winning goal in the Lakers' 5-2 win over then-No.12 Michigan on Nov. 2. He then matched his career high in points (2) and assists (2) against Michigan on Nov. 3, and he garnered a +4 rating in the series. On the month, he tallied points in seven of the Lakers' nine games played. In addition, Nordqvist was named the WCHA Rookie of the Week for the week of Nov. 2-3 after his performance in the series against Michigan.
WCHA Defenseman of the Month
Junior defenseman Collin Saccoman (6-3--9) earned WCHA Defenseman of the Month honors for the month of November.
Saccoman led the WCHA and tied for first in the nation among defenseman in goals scored (5) during the month of November. His seven points on the month tied with teammate Lukas Kaelble (1-8--9) (trailing teammate Jacob Nordqvist (2-9--11) for the second-most points by a WCHA defenseman. In addition, he also tied for the most power-play goals among WCHA blueliners with two.
Saccoman had a streak of four consecutive games with a goal that started in the second game with then-No. 12 Michigan on Nov. 3 and culminated with a goal at then-No. 10 Bowling Green on Nov. 17. He also had a six-game point streak (5-1--6) that started with the second Michigan game and culminated with a goal against Northern Michigan on Nov. 23.
Defensively, Saccoman leads the team with 28 blocked shots on the season, including 15 during November.
Senior winger Anthony Nellis (8-7--15) was a major contributor during the month of November.
Nellis recorded five goals and five assists for 10 points in November. His 10 points put him in a three-way tie for the second-most points in the WCHA during the month. Nellis tied for the team lead in power-play goals (2) and power-play points (2-3--5) and led the Lakers in shots on goal (32), points (10) and points per game (1.11). Nellis tied his career high with three assists, including an assist on the game-winning goal, in the Lakers' 5-2 win over then-No. 12 Michigan on Nov. 2. He also tallied one goal and one assist in LSSU's 5-0 win at then No. 10 Bowling Green on Nov. 16.
Head Coach Damon Whitten's Preview
Thirteen different Lakers have scored a goal in 2018-19, including nine players with at least two goals. Senior winger Anthony Nellis (8-7--15) leads the team in goals, while senior center Diego Cuglietta (7-4--11) is second. Junior defenseman Collin Saccoman (6-3--9) – the leading goal scorer among WCHA defensemen – is third on the team.
Ten different Lakers have a +1 or better plus/minus rating this season. Senior right winger Gage Torrel (2-9--11) leads the Lakers with a +6 rating, while freshman defenseman Jacob Nordqvist (2-9--11) is second on the team with a +5 rating and sophomore center Hampus Eriksson (1-5--6) is third at +5.
Senior right winger Gage Torrel (2-9--11) and freshman defenseman Jacob Nordqvist (2-9--11) lead the Lakers and are in a six-way tie for eighth in the WCHA in assists. Sophomore defenseman Lukas Kaelble (1-8--9) is third on the team and senior winger Anthony Nellis (8-7--15) is fourth.
Senior center Diego Cuglietta (7-4--11) enters the weekend leading the WCHA in faceoff wins (209) and faceoff percentage (.620). He has 53 more faceoff wins than Minnesota State's Marc Michaelis (156), who is second in the WCHA. Cuglietta is second in the nation in faceoff wins – trailing North Dakota's Rhett Gardner (241) – and he ranks 12th in percentage. As a team, the Lakers lead the WCHA and rank 14th in the nation with a .551 faceoff win percentage.
Between the Pipes
Senior netminder Nick Kossoff (5-2-1) has a 2.36 goals against average and a .908 save percentage in eight starts. Sophomore Mareks Mitens (2-4-0) has a 2.70 goals against average and .900 save percentage in six starts in net.
Alaska (4-10-2, 4-5-1-1 WCHA) comes into the series with the Lakers having swept Ferris State (4-3, 6-2) at home on Friday and Saturday.
The Nanooks are averaging 2.00 goals per game, while allowing 3.44 goals per game. Sophomore forward Steven Jandric (5-5--10), junior forward Colton Leiter (3-7--10) and freshman forward Chris Jandric (2-8--10) are tied for the team lead in points.
In goal, freshman Gustavs Grigals (4-2-0) has backstopped the Nanooks to all four of their wins this season. He has a 3.07 goals against average and a .913 save percentage in eight starts this season. Junior Anton Martinsson (0-8-2) is winless in 10 starts with a 3.51 goals against average and a .889 save percentage.
Earlier this season, the Lakers hosted the Nanooks in a two-game WCHA series on Nov. 9-10 at Taffy Abel Arena. The Lakers overcame a 3-0, third-period deficit on this first game to earn a 3-3 tie. However, Alaska earned the extra WCHA point by scoring during the 3-on-3 overtime period. In the series finale, LSSU went in front 3-0, but was unable to hold the lead as the Nanooks scored the final four goals of the game to hand the Lakers a 4-3 defeat.
LSSU faces the U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team in an exhibition game on Dec. 16, before competing in the Great Lakes Invitational at Little Caesars Arena on Dec. 30-31 in Detroit.
Be sure to follow the Lakers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information and behind-the-scenes action.