SAULT STE. MARIE - Lake Superior State rolled to a 5-1 upset win over 10th-ranked Minnesota State Friday night in the first game of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association weekend series.
The Lakers (6-1-0, 4-1-0) earned just their second victory in program history over the Mavericks in 14 tries. The win also moves the Lakers into a tie for second place with the Mavericks in the league's standings, with two games in-hand on MSU.
Junior goaltender Gordon Defiel shined throughout and was named the game's second star after posting 24 saves to keep his perfect 6-0-0 record in-tact to begin the year. Defiel's lone blemish came from Marc Michaelis' shorthanded tally on a breakaway with a delayed penalty against the Lakers coming up.
LSSU scored less than two minutes in with a deflection by sophomore forward Josh Nenadal for his first goal of the season. Nenadal's deflection came by way of sophomore defenseman Owen Headrick's seeing-eye shot from the blue line that clipped Nenadal before changing direction on Mavericks' goaltender Cole Huggins.
The Lakers led 2-0 after the first period while getting out-shot 9-5. Following Michaelis' goal to cut the Lakers lead in half, Gage Torrel scored his team-leading fifth goal of the season. Torrel dug a puck out of the corner, controlled by Kyle Chatham and flipped the play ahead to Hults at center ice. Hults displayed his patience, bringing the puck in and letting Torrel catch up before springing Torrel for a wide-open shot from the slot.
The barrage from the Lakers continued in the third, as the home side added two more goals, freshman Max Humitz's fourth goal of the season and Diego Cuglietta tied Torrel for the team-lead in goals with an empty net goal with 26 seconds remaining.
Mavericks coach Mike Hastings pulled replacement goaltender Jason Pawloski with 3:43 remaining in the third period and his team down three goals. After a many attempts by the Lakers to score from center ice or further, Cuglietta finally knocked down a puck in the defensive zone and raced down the ice to cement the victory.
Pawloski replaced Huggins late in the second period after Huggins allowed three goals on 13 shots and was credited with the loss. Pawloski made 14 saves and allowed just one goal against.
The Lakers and Mavericks conclude the weekend series at 7:07 p.m. ET on Saturday.