SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. - Lake Superior State completes its regular-season home schedule this weekend with a series against the third-ranked Miami RedHawks. To date, LSSU is the only team that has won a game in Oxford, Ohio, but the Lakers will have their hands full with the Central Collegiate Hockey Association’s top team.
The Lakers head into the series after sweeping Alaska, 5-1 and 4-2, last weekend at the Taffy Abel Arena. The RedHawks are coming of a home-and-Soldier Field series weekend with Notre Dame.
Friday’s game begins at 7:35 p.m. and Saturday’s contest starts at 7:05 p.m. LSSU will pay tribute to seniors Domenic Monardo, Nick McParland, Brett Wall and Ben Power following Saturday’s game. The Lakers also welcome several families as their guests as part of Autism Awareness Weekend.
The Lakers (15-16-1 overall, 10-13-1-1 CCHA) continue their home success with a 12-5-0 record. Miami (19-8-5 overall, 14-6-4-4 CCHA) is 7-2 in its last nine games and 7-6-2 on the road this season.
With the sweep, Lake State moved into seventh place in the CCHA with 32 points, while Miami leads the league with 50 points.Overall, the Lakers lead the all-time record against the RedHawks, 57-40-11. At home, LSSU is 35-13-4 over Miami.
Earlier in the season, LSSU was led by stellar defense and special teams with it lost 3-2 and won 1-0 at Miami. Junior goaltender, Kevin Kapalka compiled 42 saves during the one-goal loss, and junior goaltender Kevin Murdock totaled 46 saves during the shutout victory. The Lakers held the RedHawks' power play scoreless on 10 tries during the weekend, while LSSU's power play was 3-for-7.
Monardo (16-11--27), who was named CCHA Offensive Player of the Week after scoring three goals against Alaska, leads the Lakers in goals and points and ranks sixth in the CCHA in overall scoring. Miami's Curtis McKenzie and Monardo lead the league in game-winning goals with four each. McParland is second for the Lakers in points with 6-14--20.
Miami boasts the league's top two scorers in freshman forward Riley Barber (12-19--31) and sophomore forward Austin Czarnik (11-20--31). Barber also leads the CCHA in power-play points with 3-11--14, while Czarnik leads in short-handed points with 3-1--4.
Murdock (9-10-0), who was last week’s CCHA Goaltender of the Week, is third overall in the CCHA and 10th nationally in save percentage (.934). RedHawks rookie goaltender Ryan McKay (8-3-2) is first in the CCHA in goals-against average (1.06) and save percentage (.960), while Miami rookie Jay Williams (11-5-3) is second in GAA at 1.78. Mckay's GAA and save percentage also lead the nation.
With four games remaining in the regular season, seventh-place Lake Superior State has a chance to catch sixth-place Alaska, but is likely out of the hunt for a top-five finish and first-round bye in the CCHA Playoffs. The Lakers are five points behind UAF, but have two games in hand on the Nanooks. They trail fourth-place Ohio State and Ferris State by 10 points, but lead eighth-place Bowling Green State by one point. Ninth-place Northern Michigan, which hosts LSSU March 1-2, trails BGSU by five points and is still in contention to earn home ice for the first round. Tenth-place Michigan is six points behind BGSU.