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Lakers suffer third period collapse in sweep at Omaha

Mark Kuhlmann/Omaha Athletics
Mark Kuhlmann/Omaha Athletics

OMAHA, Neb. – Lake Superior State appeared set to avenge Friday night's loss against Omaha and pick up a series split on the road Saturday (Dec. 31), however a five-goal flurry by UNO in the final period left the Lakers (8-11-1) victims of a sweep on the road in their final nonconference test of the season.

The Lakers controlled the first 40 minutes of play and doubled up Omaha in shots, 12-6, during the first period. Despite a pair of power-play opportunities for the Mavericks (11-6-3) to the Lakers' zero chances during the opening period, it was a shot by freshman Max Humitz that counted as the game's first goal and put LSSU ahead 1-0 with 3:19 remaining in the first.

The goal by Humitz, his seventh of the season, slipped passed Kris Oldham following a centering pass from fellow freshman Brayden Gelsinger, who was able to dig the puck from the left corner. Sophomore Diego Cuglietta also factored on the goal with an assist.

Freshman Luke Morgan gave the Lakers a 2-0 lead, just 36 seconds into the second period after deflecting a shot by Collin Saccoman for his fourth goal of the season. Anthony Nellis also picked up his second assist of the weekend on the goal and now has six assists and 10 points on the season.

UNO picked up two power play tries during the second period and were again unsuccessful on the pair of attempts, while LSSU went to their first power play attempt of the game and were unable to score despite good puck movement with the extra attacker.

Following the second intermission, the Mavericks jumped all over LSSU in the third period and were able to quickly tie the game at 2-2 with a pair of goals 1:56 apart. David Pope tallied the first goal, a power play marker 7:45 into the third period, followed by Tristan Keck with 10:21 remaining in regulation.

Following a flurry of penalties for both teams, the Lakers went on a short five-on-three power play opportunity for 20 seconds. A goalmouth scramble in front of Oldham left Collin Saccoman with an opportunity to poke the puck in and put the Lakers ahead 3-2. Mitch Hults and J.T. Henke picked up the assists.

LSSU was left with 1:06 on a five-on-four power play following the go-ahead goal, however it was UNO's Jordan Klehr scoring on a shorthanded rush with 8:44 remaining to tie the game at 3-3 following a lengthy review on the play.

Precisely four minutes following the game-tying goal by Klehr, Tyler Vesel tacked on a backhanded goal after a scramble to the left of Lakers' goaltender Nick Kossoff allowed the puck to squirt out on the right side to Vesel who gathered and scored to give the Mavericks their first lead of the night. UNO leading scorer Austin Ortega picked up his second point of the night with the assist, while David Pope picked up his first of two assists in the game.

Ortega added his third point of the night with 17 seconds remaining to salt away the come-from-behind victory on an empty net tally as Kossoff was pulled for an extra attacker.

Ortega with a goal and two assists, Ian Brady with three assists and Vesel with two assists led the Mavericks with multiple-point outings. Saccoman picked up a goal and an assist to lead the Lakers with two points.

Oldham battled back from the early deficit and finished with 31 saves to give the Mavericks the win in net, while Kossoff was tagged for four goals, all in the third period, and made 28 saves in the loss.

The defeat to Omaha leaves the Lakers with an 8-11-1 record overall and caps the regular season nonconference slate with a 3-3-0 record. LSSU resumes play in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association with an eight-place standing (5-8-1 WCHA) next Friday, hosting Upper Peninsula rivals Northern Michigan in the first game of consecutive weekends of home-and-home series with the WCHA's last-place Wildcats (4-16-2, 2-11-1 WCHA) to decide the winner of the annual Cappo Cup rivalry trophy. LSSU travels to Marquette on Saturday (Jan. 7) to play the Wildcats at 7:07 p.m.

Friday's game (7:37 p.m. ET) against NMU is War Memorial Hospital Night and College Night. All area college students with a valid student I.D. to any university or college can receive a free ticket to the game.

The following weekend the Lakers host the Wildcats at 7:07 p.m. on Saturday (Jan. 14) following a 7:07 p.m. start against NMU on Friday (Jan. 13).