Lakers suffer road sweep at the hands of Michigan Tech

Photo courtesy Sam Downs
Photo courtesy Sam Downs

HOUGHTON, Mich.- Lake Superior State gave up a 2-1 lead in the second period to eventually fall 4-2 on the road against Western Collegiate Hockey Association rivals Michigan Tech on Saturday night, completing the weekend sweep for the Huskies.

The Lakers (6-4-0, 4-4-0 WCHA) received strong goaltending in defeat from junior Gordon Defiel, posting 43 saves, 19 of which came in the third period alone. LSSU also dealt with 17 penalty minutes against while the Huskies (6-6-2, 5-2-1 WCHA) converted three-of-four power-play opportunities.

The Huskies opened the scoring, just 5:25 into the contest, on a power-play goal by Jake Lucchini, just 28 seconds after a penalty against J.T. Henke. Matt Roy and Mark Auk added the assists for MTU.

Diego Cuglietta got the Lakers on the board with 7:48 left in the opening period on a redirected point-shot from defenseman Kris Bindulis. Sophomore defenseman Owen Headrick also tallied an assist on the goal, his ninth helper of the season.

The Lakers took a 2-1 lead early in the second period on a goal just 2:57 into the period with a one-timer goal by Gage Torrel in the slot that snuck past Angus Redmond. Sophomore Mitch Hults added his 10th assist on the year and freshman Brayden Gelsinger added his sixth assist on Torrel's sixth goal of the season.

The Huskies would respond to tie the game at 2-2, however, with 3:55 remaining in the middle period when Joel L'Esperance tucked away puck under Gordon Defiel's blocker. L'Esperance's game-tying goal was set up by Gavin Gould making a head's up play to take the puck away from a Laker defender and shuffle it over to his linemate.

With 14 seconds remaining in the second period a major penalty for interference was called on Lakers forward Josh Nenadal, as well as two minutes for slashing, setting up a seven-minute power-play for the Huskies.

The teams took a 2-2 tie into the second intermission despite the Huskies out-shooting the Lakers 26-14.

After killing off over two minutes of the major penalty against Nenadal, Aidan Wright was called for another penalty for the Lakers setting up a five-on-three advantage for the Huskies. Some confusion out of the huddle then led to a bench-minor to also be called on the Lakers, adding more time to the five-on-three advantage.

Defiel and the penalty kill stood strong during the long power play, through a barrage of shots and the Huskies bringing constant pressure in the offensive zone before Tyler Heinonen was finally able to break through with a power-play goal with just eight seconds left on the original time to Nenadal. The goal came assisted by Shane Hanna and Mitch Reinke but was originally blocked by LSSU forward Gage Torrel, before Heinonen was able to scoop the rebound and get off the second opportunity.

Following the go-ahead goal, the Lakers turned up the pressure and brought a steady attack to continue to fight to tie the game, but freshman Brayden Gelsinger got called for hooking with 1:49 remaining to all but thwart any hopes of a tying goal. L'Esperance put the game out of reach 35 seconds later with a power-play goal set up by Mark Auk.

The Lakers failed to convert on any of their five power-play opportunities in the contest and managed just 20 shots on Redmond, who made 18 saves to earn the victory.

The loss keeps the Lakers in fifth place of the WCHA standings, three points ahead of Bowling Green, which swept Northern Michigan on the weekend. The victory moves the Huskies into third place, ahead of Alabama Huntsville and LSSU.

LSSU remains on the road next weekend, traveling to Ferris State for a two-game series, Nov. 18-19. Following the series against the Bulldogs (3-9-1, 2-5-1 WCHA), the Lakers travel to Yost Ice Arena to face Michigan (Nov. 25-26) for a two game non-conference series. LSSU returns home Dec. 2-3 to face BGSU at Taffy Abel Arena.