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Lakers skate to 1-1 tie with NMU, claim extra WCHA point in 3-on-3 OT

Photo courtesy Jodie Defiel
Photo courtesy Jodie Defiel

MARQUETTE, Mich. - Sophomore Gage Torrel's goal in the three-on-three overtime period awardedLake Superior State two points in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association on Saturday, in an official 1-1 tie with Upper Peninsula rivals Northern Michigan.

While the Lakers (9-12-2, 6-9-2 WCHA) and Wildcats (5-17-3, 3-12-2 WCHA) both come away with a  draw, the Lakers claimed the valuable extra point towards the WCHA standings to remain tied for seventh place with Alaska, which also picked up a goal in the three-on-three overtime against Ferris State on Friday night .

Freshman forward Max Humitz opened the scoring 5:02 into the opening stanza, redirecting a point shot from fellow freshman Collin Saccoman. The power-play goal for Humitz gives the native of Livonia, Mich., 10 goals on the season, tying Diego Cuglietta for the team-lead in goals. Saccoman added his sixth assist of the season on the play and junior J.T. Henke tallied his 16th helper of the season and is now tied with Mitch Hults for the team-lead in scoring with 22 points.

With his 10th goal of the season, Humitz becomes the first LSSU freshman since Alex Globke in 2013-14 to register 10 goals during a rookie campaign. Humitz also leads the Lakers with five power-play goals this season, good for third-most among WCHA players.

The Wildcats responded and tied the game at 1-1 with 5:36 remaining in the first period on Sami Salminen's first goal of the season. Salminen, working a 2-on-1 break with Rylan Yaremko was able to find the net behind Gordon Defiel to tie the game. Troy Loggins also factored in an assist on the goal.

Defiel, along with NMU netminder Atte Tolvanen kept the game deadlocked at 1-1 throughout the final 45 minutes of regulation and through the official five-on-five overtime period. Through 65 minutes of official time, Defiel collected 25 saves, while Tolvanen finished with 22, including 13 in the second period.

LSSU struggled offensively in the third period, registering just one shot on goal, but Defiel was up to the task, turning aside seven shots from the Wildcats.

Following the five-on-five overtime, the teams each earned one WCHA point entering the extra three-on-three overtime.

The Lakers opened the 3-on-3 period with a slashing penalty 58 seconds into play to give NMU an extra man for a 4-on-3 power play. Seven seconds later, however, the Wildcats were also whistled for a penalty to send the game back to three players aside.

With three minutes remaining in the second overtime, NMU forward Zach Diamantoni was hauled down from behind on a breakaway, setting up a penalty shot. Defiel, however, remained strong and kept the Lakers alive with a save on the attempt by Diamantoni.

In the waning moments of the period, the Wildcats attempted to clear the puck but it was intercepted by Owen Headrick in the neutral zone. Circling back before charging up the ice, Headrick flipped a pass to Torrel along the left side, freeing him to score the goal to give the Lakers the extra WCHA point. The goal by Torrel and assist by Headrick do not count towards official stats.

LSSU finished the game 1-for-3 on the power play, while NMU was held without a power play goal in three attempts, plus a penalty shot attempt.

With the tie, the Lakers and Wildcats travel across the U.P. to square off Saturday night at Taffy Abel Arena with the Cappo Cup rivalry series tied 1-1-1 and NMU leading in total goals 9-8. Saturday's series finale is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. and is "SOOperhero Night." LSSU Athletics invites all Chippewa County first responders to receive a free ticket to the game.