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Lakers storm back on Nanooks to remain unbeaten

Photo Courtesy Kati Doty
Photo Courtesy Kati Doty

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. - Lake Superior State hockey trailed 2-0 through the first period of play in Friday evening's Western Collegiate Hockey Association contest against Alaska before scoring three second period goals to win 3-2 and remain unbeaten on the season.

The Lakers, a perfect 5-0-0 overall and 3-0-0 in WCHA play, are now the last unbeaten and untied team in NCAA Division I hockey this season, following No. 1 ranked North Dakota's 5-2 loss at Minnesota Duluth on Friday.

LSSU was held scoreless during the opening period for the first time this season, but stormed back in the second period. The Lakers scored two goals, 51 seconds apart, to tie the game at 2-2, just 4:42 into the middle period.

Sophomore defenseman Owen Headrick (Garden River, Ont.) put the Lakers on the board 3:51 into the second with a five-on-three power play goal. Headrick's goal, his second of the season and eighth point overall, was assisted by fellow sophomores Gage Torrel (3-4--7) and Mitch Hults (2-6--8).

Moments later, with both teams back at full strength, freshman Max Humitz netted his third collegiate goal, jamming in a rebound in front set up by a point-shot by freshman Luke Morgan (0-5--5) and junior J.T. Henke (3-5--8). Henke has registered a goal or assist in every game so far for the Lakers and is tied with Hults and Headrick for the team lead in points.

With 6:34 left in the middle period sophomore forward and reigning WCHA Offensive Player of the Week, Diego Cuglietta (4-2--6) intercepted a UAF break-out attempt and went in unassisted to score the game-winning shorthanded. The game-winner while shorthanded was Cuglietta's second such strike this season and his sixth career game-winning goal for the Lakers.

The Nanooks (2-5-0, 1-2-0 WCHA) opened the scoring late in the first period on Chad Staley's even strength goal, which came unassisted.

56 seconds later Tristan Thompson stunned the Lakers and the Taffy Abel crowd of 2,446 with a power-play goal that put UAF ahead 2-0. Marcus Basara and Danny Kiraly earned the assists on the power-play strike.

Gordon Defiel started in net for the Lakers and earned his fifth consecutive victory while posting 19 shots. Countering Defiel, Jesse Jenks finished with 24 saves in the loss.

The Lakers were last undefeated through their first five games in 2013-14, opening the season 4-0-1 and are a perfect 5-0-0 for the first time since 1995-96.

LSSU and the Nanooks close the series Saturday evening at 7:07 p.m. Saturday's game will feature many great Pink in the Rink festivities, including a "Finding Dory" Halloween Party in Bud Cooper Gymnasium from 6-8 p.m., and a skate with the Lakers immediately following the game. Adult tickets are $12 and children tickets cost $6. LSSU faculty, staff and students get free admission to all Laker Athletics events.