SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – No. 19 Lake Superior State hockey concludes regular-season play with a two-game Western Collegiate Hockey Association series this weekend at Taffy Abel Arena.
Both games between Lake Superior State (20-10-2, 15-9-2-0 WCHA) and Ferris State (9-22-3, 6-17-3-0 WCHA) are slated for 7 p.m. EST.
The Lakers are celebrating Senior Night on Saturday. Five senior will be honored in an on-ice ceremony prior to Saturday night's game. The seniors that will be recognized are: center Diego Cuglietta, winger Anthony Nellis, defenseman Steven Ruggiero, forward Gage Torrel and goaltender Nick Kossoff.
The radio broadcast will be on 99.5 Yes FM and the series will be streamed on FloHockey.TV.
Last Time on the Ice
Lake Superior State dropped both ends of a two-game series at Northern Michigan last weekend. The Lakers suffered 4-2 and 5-3 setbacks on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
Playing for his hometown Lakers, the Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan native earned WCHA Rookie of the Week honors after garnering one goal and three assists for four points in No. 19 Lake Superior State's (20-10-2, 15-9-2 WCHA) series at Northern Michigan. Calder led all WCHA freshmen on the week in five statistical categories: assists, points, assists per game (1.50), points per game (2.00), and plus-minus (+3). He also tied for second among WCHA freshmen in goals scored. His four points were two more than the next-highest freshman total in the WCHA and ranked tied for second among freshmen in NCAA Division I Men's Hockey. He also led all freshmen in the nation in assists, while tying for the second-best plus-minus rating.
Calder earned WCHA Rookie of the Month honors for the second consecutive month after garnering three goals, four assists, seven points and a +3 rating to help Lake Superior State to a 4-2-0 record in February.
Lake Superior State enters this week's series with Ferris State in fourth place in the WCHA standings with 47 points. Only the top-seed in the WCHA Playoffs (Minnesota State, 62 points) and the seventh seed (Alaska, 34 points) are set with their playoff seeding.
Bowling Green (second place, 52 points), Northern Michigan (third place, 50 points), Lake Superior State in fourth place, Bemidji State (fifth place, 45 points) and Michigan Tech (sixth place, 43 points) are all playing to hold onto or improve their playoff seeding.
Alabama Huntsville is eighth — the last playoff spot — in the standings with 25 points, but Ferris State is looming in ninth place with 21 points.
Lake Superior State is ranked No. 19 in the most recent USCHO Poll. Minnesota State (No. 4) and Bowling Green (No. 15) are the other WCHA teams ranked in the USCHO Poll. The Lakers have been ranked in eight consecutive polls, dating back to Jan. 7.
Senior center Diego Cuglietta (20-14--34) enters the weekend leading the WCHA in faceoff wins (434), while ranking sixth in faceoff win percentage (.559). He enters the weekend with 74 more faceoff wins than Michigan Tech's Dylan Steman (360), who is second in the WCHA. Cuglietta is second in the nation in faceoff wins – trailing North Dakota's Rhett Gardner (468).
Sophomore forward Hampus Eriksson (2-9--11) leads the Lakers and ranks fourth in the WCHA with a .583 faceoff win percentage. Eriksson has 203 faceoff wins in 2018-19.
As a team, the Lakers second in the WCHA and 15th nationally with a .524 faceoff win percentage.
With their 20-10-2 record, Lake State has already won more games than it won all of last season when the Lakers finished 10-22-4. The last time the Lakers won 20 games was 2006-07, when the team ended the season with a 21-19-3 record. If the Lakers reach 22 wins, it will be the most wins in a season since 1995-96 when the Lakers played to a 30-8-2 record.
100 Career Points
Senior center Diego Cuglietta (45-48--93, career totals) is closing in on 100 career points. The last Laker to tally 100 career points was Domenic Monardo (49-52--101), who was a member of the Lakers from 2009-13.
The Lakers have scored 108 goals this season as a team, which is more than they scored all of last season (76). The Lakers' 108 goals is the most they have scored in a season since 2008-09.
Keeping Up With the Hobey Baker Award Nominees
Fan voting for the 2019 Hobey Baker Award is ongoing. Fans are allowed to cast a vote for one player each day by going to https://www.hobeybaker.com/vote.
In the Plus
Fifteen Lakers have a +1 or better plus-minus rating this season. Senior center Diego Cuglietta (20-14--34) is the team leader at +18. Senior forward Gage Torrel (7-17--24) is second at +17, while sophomore defenseman Lukas Kaelble (1-21--22) and freshman defenseman Jacob Nordqvist (3-12--15) are tied for third at +15.
Cuglietta's +18 rating is tied for third in the WCHA.
The Magic Man
Junior defenseman Collin Saccoman (9-12--21) enters this week with the eighth-most goals scored by a defenseman in NCAA Division I Men's Hockey, while ranking third in the nation among all skaters in blocked shots (77). His goal total leads WCHA blueliners and he is second among all WCHA players in blocked shots.
Nineteen different Lakers have scored a goal this season, including 15 who have scored multiple goals. Senior center Diego Cuglietta (20-14--34) leads the WCHA and is tied for second in the nation in goals scored. Cuglietta is followed in goals scored by senior winger Anthony Nellis (14-16--30) and junior forward Max Humitz (14-16--30). Junior forward Brayden Gelsinger (10-13--23) is fourth and junior defenseman Collin Saccoman (9-12--21) — the leading goal scorer among WCHA defensemen — is fifth on the team in goals scored.
Head Coach Damon Whitten's Preview
Facing the Bulldogs
Ferris State (9-22-3, 6-17-3-0 WCHA) enters the series with the Lakers battling for the final position in the WCHA Tournament. The Bulldogs are currently ninth in the standings with 21 points. Alabama Huntsville is in eighth place — the last WCHA Tournament position — with 25 points.
Last weekend, the Bulldogs split a home series with Alabama Huntsville — losing 2-0 on Friday before winning 5-2 on Saturday.
The Bulldogs are led offensively by a pair of defensemen — freshman Cooper Zech (8-20--28) and junior Nate Kallen (7-16--23). Senior Corey Mackin (7-15--22) leads Ferris State's forwards in points.
The Lakers and Bulldogs last faced each other on Feb. 1-2 in Big Rapids, Michigan. The Lakers swept the series with 6-3 and 4-2 wins.
The Lakers have clinched a spot in the WCHA postseason. The Lakers will played a best-of-three WCHA Quarterfinals on Friday, March 8, Saturday, March 9, and Sunday, March 10 (if necessary) against a yet to be determined opponent. If the Lakers finish in the top four of the standings they will host next weekend's series.
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