SAULT STE. MARIE - Receiving two goals each from the team's top-two scorers this season, Lake Superior State snapped a three-game winless streak (0-1-2) Friday night at Taffy Abel Arena, defeating Western Collegiate Hockey Association rivals Alabama-Huntsville 5-4.
Sophomore Mitch Hults scored his seventh goal of the season to put the Lakers ahead 2-0 early in the second period and logged his eighth tally of the year on the game-winning goal, giving the Lakers (10-12-3, 7-9-3 WCHA) the 5-4 lead with 6:50 remaining. With eight goals and 16 assists, Hults is second on the team in scoring behind junior J.T. Henke with 24 points.
With two goals of his own on Friday, Henke (9-16--25) retained his team-lead in points. Henke gave the Lakers a 3-0 advantage one minute and 23 seconds after Hults during the second period, working a give-and-go to perfection with freshman Luke Morgan (4-10--14). Morgan also later assisted on Henke's second goal of the middle period, as did goaltender Gordon Defiel. The assist for Defiel was his second of the season and third of his collegiate career.
Henke's second tally gave the Lakers a 4-2 lead, 29 seconds after Kurt Gosselin went coast-to-coast and pulled the Chargers (7-16-2, 7-10-2 WCHA) within a goal of the Lakers as 49 seconds remained in the period.
Senior captain Gus Correale (4-4--8) opened the scoring for LSSU with a shorthanded goal, tipping in a perfect one-timer feed from penalty killing partner and linemate Diego Cuglietta (10-8--18) with 11:30 to play in the first period. Correale started the play by firing a rink-wide clearing attempt up the ice and found Cuglietta in-stride. With Cuglietta drawing the attention from the retreating Chargers power play, Correale snuck behind UAH starting goaltender Jordan Uhelski to tip in the tape-to-tape feed.
Defiel made 29 saves in earning his single-season career-high 10th victory (10-10-2).
Uhelski made 15 saves through two periods of play for UAH and allowed four goals before being replaced by Carmine Guerriero to open the third period. Guerriero made four saves during the final frame and was tagged with the loss after allowing the game-winner to Hults.
1:06 into the third period Brent Fletcher scored his second goal of the year, assisted by Gosselin for his second point of the night, to bring the score to 4-3.
With 12:06 remaining in regulation defenseman Brandon Parker tied the game with his seventh goal of the season.
Hults' game-winning goal with 6:50 remaining came on an unassuming play that appeared broken as Lakers defenseman Ryan Renz lumbered the puck into the offensive zone and chipped it ahead behind the net. Hults gathered the puck and circled out to the faceoff dot to Guerriero's left side and fired the puck through traffic, picking the top right corner over a frozen Guerriero's shoulder.
The victory moves the Lakers past two points ahead of the Chargers for seventh place in the WCHA standings heading into Saturday's series finale at 7:07 p.m. The Lakers remain two points behind Alaska in fifth place and one point behind Ferris State in sixth place as both earned road victories on Friday night.