MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Lake Superior State hockey team completed the tail end of their home-and-home series against the Northern Michigan Wildcats on Saturday, October 7th. The Lakers (1-1-0, 0-0-0-0 WCHA) fell 4-1 to their conference foe Wildcats (1-1-0, 0-0-0-0 WCHA) in a non-conference series at the Berry Events Center.
Northern Michigan got on the board first with a goal by senior co-captain Robbie Payne, against Laker netminder Nick Kossoff. Payne's goal was his third on the weekend. Kossoff's counterpart, Atte Tolvanen kept Lake Superior off the scoreboard during the first period, resulting in the home Wildcats leading the Lakers after the first twenty minutes.
In the second period, the Wildcats controlled much of the action, as they outshot the Lakers 11-7 in the period. While the first period only saw two penalties called (one for each team), the second period saw more traffic on the path to the penalty box with five penalties total. Despite Northern Michigan's control of the play, Kossoff made several big saves to keep his team in the game. Unfortunately for the Lakers, a goal by the Wildcats' Philip Beaulieu with 40 seconds left in the second period sent Lake Superior back to the dressing room trailing by two.
Early in the third period, Lake Superior got on the board when junior forward Diego Cuglietta intercepted a pass. Cuglietta slid the puck to fellow junior forward Jake Hand, who buried the puck just under the crossbar past Tolvanen, cutting the deficit to 2-1.
The Lakers controlled much of the play following Hand's goal, but were unable to solve Tolvanen, who finished with 20 saves on 21 shots. Kossoff stopped 25 of 28 shots for the game.
Unfortunately for Lake Superior, a late goal by Denver Pierce squeezed past Kossoff to give the Wildcats a 3-1 lead with 1:59 remaining in the game.
The Lakers rolled the dice and pulled Kossoff for an extra attacker. A defensive miscue led to empty netter by NMU's Payne sealed the deal for Northern Michigan on their way to a 4-1 victory. Payne finished the weekend with four goals.
A night after both teams saw success on the power play, both teams came up short with the extra attacker, as Northern Michigan went 0 for 4, while the Lakers were 0 for 3. Neither team took a penalty in the third period.
Prior to the game, a ceremony was held to dedicate the ice rink at the Berry Events Center to longtime Wildcats coach Rick Comley. Comley played for Lake Superior from 1967-71. He coached the Lakers from 1973 to 1976, before departing to help start the Northern Michigan hockey program, where he coached until 2002. Following his time at NMU, Comley went on to coach Michigan State until he retired in 2011. Having won an NCAA National Championship at Northern Michigan in 1991 and at Michigan State in 2007, Comley is one of only three head coaches to have won an NCAA title at two different schools.
The game was the second of four regular season meetings between the Lakers and the 'Cats in their quest for the Father Cappo Cup, which has been contested between the two schools since 1991. The cup is awared to the team with the better head to head record. Currently, the series is tied 1-1, but the Wildcats hold the total goals tiebreaker 7-6. The fate of the cup will be decided during their next meetings on January 19-20, 2018. Both games are in Marquette.
The Lakers are back in action on Friday, October 13th, as the puck drops on the start of the conference schedule. Michigan Tech comes to Sault Ste. Marie to take on the Lakers as part of Great Lake State Weekend at the Taffy Abel Arena. Friday's start time has been moved back from 7:07 p.m. to 7:37 p.m., while Saturday's puck drop is at the normally scheduled time of 7:07 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at the Norris Center ticket office or at lssulakers.com/tickets.