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Lakers return home for Pink in the Rink, host Alaska this weekend

Laker goal celebration
Photo courtesy Kati Doty


Lake Superior State vs. Alaska
 Date  Oct. 28-29, 2016 (Friday/Saturday)
 Time  7:37 p.m. ET Friday/ 7:07 p.m. ET Saturday
 Location  Taffy Abel Arena (4,000) | Sault Ste. Marie


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 Live Stats  College Hockey Stats
 Game Notes
 Lake Superior State | Alaska
 Twitter  @HockeyLSSU
 LSSU Record  4-0-0, 2-0-0 WCHA
 UAF Record  2-4-0, 1-1-0 WCHA

Coming Up This Weekend

Lake Superior State welcomes their first Western Collegiate Hockey Association rival to Taffy Abel Arena this weekend as the Alaska Nanooks come to town for a two-game series on Friday at 7:37 p.m. and Saturday at 7:07 p.m.

LSSU looks to keep their undefeated record in-tact, as well as their NCAA-best six goals per game average, after returning home from Huntsville with six league points and a sweep over the Chargers. The Lakers are looking for their first 6-0-0 start to a season since the 1995-96 campaign, also the last appearance in the NCAA Tournament. 

The Series vs. Alaska

Overall: LSSU leads 34-21-6... In the Soo: LSSU leads: 25-9-1

Last meeting: Dec. 4-5, 2015, LSSU won 4-2 / LSSU won 2-0

Streak: LSSU  2-0-0     Last 10: LSSU leads 6-4-0

The Lakers and Nanooks met just once last season as the Lakers made the trek up to Fairbanks and came away with their lone sweep of the season and the team's first sweep in Fairbanks since 1996.

The first meeting between the programs dates back to Oct. 10, 1986 and was played in Sault Ste. Marie. The Nanooks won the first matchup 8-6, but LSSU responded with an 8-1 victory the next night for the series split.

In 1995 the Nanooks joined the Lakers in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association and the teams have been conference foes ever since, including when both teams joined the WCHA in 2013-14. During their time in the CCHA the Lakers enjoyed a 27-14-6 advantage over Alaska.

Since both teams joined the WCHA in 2013-14, the series is tiead 4-4-0.

Scouting the Nanooks

The Nanooks (2-4-0, 1-1-0 WCHA) leave Alaska for the first time this season, this weekend for their trip to Taffy Abel Arena. UAF hosted the Lakers' next opponent, Minnesota State, last weekend and pulled off the 4-2 upset on Saturday to secure the series split with the Mavericks.

Senior Brandon Morley leads the Nanooks with five points, all coming by way of assists and has a trio of players with four points each: Zach Frye (2-2--4), Chad Staley (2-2--4), and Justin Woods (1-3--4).

Goaltending has proven to be a question mark for UAF to start the season with sophomore Jesse Jenks and senior Davis Jones each having trouble finding any traction to start the season. Both goaltenders are allowing north of three goal-against per game and are failing to earn save percentages above 89-percent.

Last Week Against the Chargers (Friday: 6-3, W, Saturday: 5-2, W)

LSSU opened the WCHA schedule last weekend with a sweep on the road against Alabama-Huntsvile. The Lakers skated to a 6-3 victory in Friday night's series opener and earned the 5-2 victory in Saturday's series finale.

Sophomore forward Diego Cuglietta turned in a four point weekend, including scoring two goals and notching an assist on Friday. Cuglietta scored a pair of goals, including the game-winning shorthanded tally, just over two minutes apart and added his assist three minutes after his second tally. Saturday saw Cuglietta get his third goal of the series and improve to a WCHA-best +4 rating (tying for fourth nationally) on the weekend.

Freshman defenseman Collin Saccoman tied for the WCHA lead and tied for second among all NCAA blue-liners with three assists – a big reason why he paced the league (and tied for second among defensemen nationally) with a +4 rating. The rookie from Stillwater, Minn. picked up an assist on the game-winning goal both nights for the Lakers and has now assisted on each of the last three game-winning goals for LSSU.

The Lakers used a four-goal second period to help propel them to a 6-3 victory in Friday's series opener. Brayden Gelsinger and Gage Torrel put the Lakers up 2-0 through the first period and Gelsinger notched his second goal of the night mid-way through the second to put the Lakers up 3-1. Cuglietta then scored two goals and assisted on J.T. Henke's third goal of the season to put the Lakers up 6-1 after 40 minutes of play.

On Saturday the Lakers were greeted early with a Chargers goal, just one minute into play. For the first time this season the Lakers trailed for just over seven minutes before Anthony Nellis scored the first of his two goals on the evening.

Freshman Bryan Basilico scored his first collegiate goal to end the first period with LSSU leading 2-1, and Mitch Hults tallied his second goal of the season to put the Lakers ahead 3-1 in the second period. Cuglietta later capped the LSSU scoring with a diving attempt to get his stick on the puck and redirect a centering pass from sophomore Josh Nenadal.

Nenadal logged his first two assists of the season on Saturday night.

Laker Log

  • The Lakers and No. 1 ranked North Dakota (5-0-0) are now the only teams to have won all of their games this season. The Lakers are also leading the nation with a six goals per-game average.
  • LSSU is tied with Minnesota State for the nation's lead in goal margin with a +15 total.
  • Four Lakers: Owen Headrick (1-6--7), Henke (3-4--7), Hults (2-5--7) and Gelsinger (3-4--7) are all tied for eighth nationally with a 1.75 point-per-game average and are tied for the fifth-most points by a WCHA player.
  • Torrel (3-3--6), Cuglietta (3-2--5) and Nellis (3-2--5) are also averaging over a point-per-game for the Lakers.
  • Henke, Gelsinger and Hults have each registered a point in every game thus far for the Lakers and they all have a pair of multi-point games.
  • Torrel leads the team with three multi-point games, while Nellis and Headrick each have two multi-point games. All three have earned a point in three-of-the-four games for the Lakers.
  • Saccoman and fellow freshman Luke Morgan have each logged four assists through their first four collegiate games.
  • In net, junior goaltender Gordon Defiel has fared well enough to rank third in save percentage among WCHA goaltenders with a .913 clip. His 2.25 goals-against average also ranks third among league goaltenders and he remains one-of-the-two undefeated goaltenders left in the league.

Exceptional Special Teams

Special teams continue to prove vital to the Lakers' success this season. The Lakers' power play is converting at a 28-percent clip, good for fourth nationally. On the penalty kill the Lakers rank seventh nationally at 92-percent.

Poll Position

With the 4-0-0 start the Lakers the Lakers earned 44 votes in the Division I Men's poll on Monday. Following the team's 2-0-0 start, the Lakers received six votes in last week's poll.

The Lakers were last ranked in the national top-20 poll on Jan. 6, 2014, coming in at No. 19. The following poll on January 13, 2014, is the last time the Lakers received votes in the national polls.

An early release of the PairWise Rankings has the Lakers  ranked third nationally behind North Dakota and Minnesota State. The PairWise Ranking is a system which attempts to mimic the method used by the NCAA Selection Committee to determine participants for the NCAA Division I men's hockey tournament. The PWR compares all teams by these criteria: record against common opponents, head-to-head competition, and the RPI.

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Pink In The Rink

This weekend marks Lake Superior State's final two appearances in their 1970s throwback jerseys, which go on the auction block Saturday during the ninth annual Pink in the Rink. Through eight years, LSSU's Pink in the Rink has generated more than $145,000 for local health and wellness organizations.

Proceeds are primarily raised through t-shirt/sweatshirt sales, the jersey auction, a silent auction and the raffle basket drawing. Most raffle baskets are valued at several hundred dollars, and everyone has a chance to win. The "Finding Dory" Halloween costume party for kids begins at 6 p.m. Saturday in Cooper Gymnasium. Admission to the "Finding Dory" party is free.

The official 2016 Pink in the Rink shirts are for sale at Barnes and Noble at LSSU beginning Wednesday. To find out more, go to the Pink in the Rink LSSU on facebook or

Looking Ahead (vs. No. 9 MSU-Mankato)

Next weekend the Lakers host No. 9-ranked Minnesota State- Mankato at Taffy Abel Arena in a two-game WCHA series that figures to feature a pair of the top scoring teams in the nation.

The Lakers average six goals per-game (best in the NCAA) while the Mavericks are scoring at a 4.33 goals per-game clip to rank first and second in the WCHA, respectively. MSU has played in two more games than the Lakers this season and have a slim lead ahead of the Lakers with two more total goals for the national lead.

Both teams are doing a great job limiting their opponents' offenses as well, with sub-2.50 goals-against averages on the season.The Lakers hold a slight edge in power play percentage (28.0 percent) and penalty kill (92.0 percent) over the Mavericks (25.0 percent PP/88.9 percent PK).

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.

The show is live from the Antlers restaraunt on East Portage Ave. every Tuesday night starting at 6 p.m. and can be heard on WKNW ESPN Radio 1400 or you can catch up on any shows you have missed through podcasts that will be made available on

Laker Hockey Talk

Laker Hockey Talk, also on ESPN 1400, returns this year on Thursday mornings at 8:30 a.m. Bill Crawford and Damon Whitten preview the upcoming weekend's match up. Podcasts for the Laker Hockey Talk show will also be available at

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 906-635-0568.

Laker Club

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.