Hockey heads to Denver to face defending National Champion Pioneers this weekend

Hockey heads to Denver to face defending National Champion Pioneers this weekend

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – The Lake Superior State hockey team is jumping into non-conference action this weekend, as the Lakers take a trip to Denver.  There, the Lakers will take on the defending national champion University of Denver Pioneers on Friday, October 20th and Saturday, October 21st.  Puck drop for both games is set for 9:05 p.m. Eastern (7:05 p.m. Mountain Time).

Last Weekend

The Lakers (1-2-1, 0-1-1 WCHA) faced Michigan Tech at home for Great Lake State Weekend.  On Friday night, the Huskies scored two quick third period goals to break a 2-2 tie en route to a 4-3 win.  The Saturday game saw the Lakers rally to send the game to overtime.  After playing through the NCAA mandated 5 on 5 overtime, the teams played the WCHA mandated 3 on 3 overtime, with neither team potting a goal.  In the fourth round of the shootout, Michigan Tech's Jake Lucchini beat Lakers netminder Mareks Mitens to give the Huskies 2 of the 3 league points.

The Pioneers (1-0-1, 0-0-0 NCHC) played Notre Dame, their opponent from last year's Frozen Four.  After skating to a 2-2 tie in South Bend, Indiana on Friday, Denver defeated the Fighting Irish on Saturday 4-2.  Denver's Liam Finlay broke a 2-2 tie with under 5 minutes remaining in the game and just 24 seconds after the Irish had tied the game at 2.  An empty-netter sealed the deal for the Pios.

About the Lakers

Through four games, the Lakers are 1-2-1 overall, and 0-1-1 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.  Lake Superior split a home and home series with Northern Michigan to start the year, before hosting Michigan Tech, the WCHA's lone representative in the NCAA tournament last year.  The Huskies defeated the Lakers 4-3 on Friday before a 2-2 tie on Saturday.  Although the Huskies prevailed in a shootout on Saturday, the NCAA still recognizes the game as a tie, with the shootout factoring into the WCHA standings only.

The Huskies came into Sault Ste. Marie ranked 15th in the USCHO.com poll and 13th in the USA Today/USA Magazine poll.  Following their weekend against the Lakers, Michigan Tech dropped out of the USA Today poll.

Leading the Lakers in scoring is senior forward J.T. Henke.  Henke, a native of Trenton, Michigan, has 2 goals and 4 assists for 6 points on the season.  Five of those points came last weekend against the Huskies, which the WCHA recognized by naming him Offensive Player of the Week.

Junior forwards Anthony Nellis (3-1—4), Diego Cuglietta (2-1—3) and Jake Hand (1-1—2) have continued producing for what was one of the highest scoring classes in the nation last season.  Continuing his impressive rookie campaign is Max Humitz (2-1—3) who was named to the WCHA All-Rookie Team following last season.

On defense, three newcomers have played in all four games so far, as William Riedell, Lukas Kaelble and Tyler Anderson have worked on adapting to the college game.  They join seniors Kyle Chatham, Aiden Wright and Ryan Renz, junior Matt McArdle and sophomore Collin Saccoman on the blueline.

In goal, junior Nick Kossoff holds a .894 save percentage and a 3.37 goals against average in three games.  Freshman Mareks Mitens, in his only start on the season, has a 1.85 GAA and a .952 SV%.

About the Pioneers

The Pioneers, ranked number one in the country in both major polls, currently sit at 1-0-1 on the season, with a win and tie against Notre Dame.  Last season, Denver finished with a 33-7-4 record, placed atop the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) and made the NCAA Tournament as an at-large selection after falling to North Dakota in the NCHC Tournament.  There, they trounced Michigan Tech (WCHA), Penn State (Big Ten) and Notre Dame (Hockey East) to reach the title game, where they defeated conference foe Minnesota Duluth 3-2 to win their eighth national title.

Much of the nucleus of last year's title team returns for another run, including junior forward Tony Terry, who was tied for 19th in the country last season in scoring (22-23—45).  Right behind him was sophomore Henrik Borgstrom (22-21—43) junior Dylan Gambrell (13-29—42) and junior Jarid Lukosevicius (16-16—32), all of whom return to the Pioneers this year.  Among the departures for Denver up front are Emil Romig (9-6—15) and Evan Ritt (2-10—12).

On the back end, sophomore Michael Davies (3-14—17), senior Tariq Hammond (3-6—9) and junior Blake Hillman (1-7—8) all come back to anchor a defense that allowed 1.82 goals per game – the best in the nation.  A notable absence for the Pioneers is Will Butcher (7-30—37) who was the second highest scoring defenseman in the nation, behind only Adam Fox of Harvard.

In net, Tanner Jaillet returns for his senior season.  Last year, Jaillet went 28-5-4, posting a 1.84 GAA and a .929 SV%.

At the helm of Denver is Jim Montgomery, now in his fifth season.  Despite some rumors that he may pursue the vacant head coaching position with the Florida Panthers, Montgomery returned to lead the Pios.  As many Laker fans will remember, Montgomery was the captain of the 1993 Maine squad that came from behind to defeat Lake Superior in the 1993 NCAA Championship game.

Through two games this year, the Pios are led by Terry (1-2—3), Borgstrom (2-0—2), Gambrell (1-1—2) and Logan O'Connor (0-2—2).  Thirteen different skaters have at least one point on the stat sheet.  In net, Jaillet has played both games, sporting a 1.92 GAA and a .935 SV%.

Hanging a Banner

On Friday night, fans in Denver will witness the banner commemorating the Pioneers' 2017 title being raised to the rafters.  For the Lakers, this will be the second time this season where a ceremony has taken place prior to a game they've played in.  In their road game against Northern Michigan, the Lakers bore witness to the rink at the Berry Events Center being dedicated to longtime former Wildcats coach Rick Comley.

The last time the Lakers and Pioneers faced each other, Denver defeated the Lakers 6-3 back on November 26th, 2010 in Denver.

Road Warriors

The Lakers will again be on the road the following weekend where they will take on former Central Collegiate Hockey Association foe Michigan State.  The Spartans made a trip to Sault Ste. Marie last season for Great Lake State Weekend.  The Lakers swept the Spartans with 6-1 and 7-3 victories.

Lake Superior returns home to face WCHA opponent Alaska-Anchorage on November 3rd and 4th.  Puck drop for both Friday and Saturday is 7:07 p.m.  Tickets for Friday and Saturday night can be purchased at the Norris Center ticket office or by going to lssulakers.com/tickets.

Ticket Info

Tickets are $12.50 for adults, $10.50 for seniors and $6.50 for children (under 18). Single-game tickets have increased 50 cents to help cover mounting ticket vendor service charges.  LSSU students receive free admission and must possess a valid student ID.  For tickets, call or visit the Norris Center Ticket Office, 635- 2602. Fans can also now order their tickets online at lssulakers.com/tickets/index and pick them up at will call before a game or during regular business hours.

Every home game and all road games against conference opponents will be available via live stream hosted by Stretch Internet on WCHA.tv.

Season Tickets

Season tickets for the 2017-18 Laker Hockey season, which includes an action-packed Fall, are available online or at Norris Center Guest Services.

This year's season-ticket packages are $197.00 for adults and $92.00 for children 17-and-under. The Snowbird Package, which includes the first 13 games, is available for $112.00. Season tickets can be purchased or renewed at the Student Activity Center Help Desk during the Norris Center's normal operational hours, or by calling 906-635-2602. Visit www.lssulakers.com/tickets to order online.

The season ticket package includes three playoff games. Should the Lakers not host a first-round playoff series, playoff ticket refunds will be offered through May 15, 2018.

Adult season packages are $197 and include 17 home games plus three Western Collegiate Hockey Association first-round playoff games. Child season tickets are $92 and also include three playoff games. The Snowbird package includes the Lakers' first 13 home games for $112.

Season tickets can be purchased online through www.lssulakers.com/tickets or at the Norris Center Guest Services Desk during summer hours. LSSU faculty/staff and retirees must pick up tickets at the Norris Center.

Laker Hockey Show

Every week Bill Crawford along with head coach Damon Whitten, the assistant coaches and players take a look at the Laker Hockey program.  A review of past games, a look ahead to future action and more information and insight on the team and players.  The show is live from the Antlers restaurant on East Portage Avenue every Tuesday night starting at 6 p.m. and can be heard on WKNW ESPN Radio 1400.

Soo Blue Liners

The Soo Blue Liners commenced operations as a support group in 1982-83 with a membership of 75 people. The organization was developed for the specific purpose of supporting Laker hockey.

Soo Blue Liners memberships are: $5 college students, $15 single members, $25 couples, $30 families. Membership applications are available at the Norris Center Ticket Office or by calling (906) 248-5732.

Laker Club

The LSSU Laker Club is the principle fundraising initiative for athletics at Lake Superior State University. With the help of a strong and active membership, the club will work to increase fan support at all LSSU athletic events. Membership also supports athletes in the classroom through Laker Club funded scholarships. LSSU athletes are high achievers inside and outside of the classroom.

Also in Action

Four other Laker teams will be in action this weekend, as women's tennis is home for their final match of the fall season, while volleyball, men's cross country and women's cross country are all away.

Women's Tennis

The Laker women's tennis team is set to play their final match of the fall season.  They will face Michigan Tech, whom they have already played against this season, albeit in non-conference action.  The Lakers (3-8, 2-7 GLIAC) come into play with a weekend sweep against Purdue Northwest and Davenport.  Against PNW, Lake State earned its first conference victory of the season in a 9-0 sweep.  The following day, the Lakers earned an 8-1 win over Davenport, with one doubles and two singles matches awarded to Lake Superior in default.  The action starts on Saturday, October 21st at 10 a.m. in the Arbuckle Student Activities Center.

Volleyball

Staying on the road this weekend, the volleyball team will face GLIAC opponents Grand Valley and Wayne State.  Lake Superior (3-15, 1-8 GLIAC) is coming off of a 1-2 showing at the Midwest Region Crossover this past weekend in Aurora, Illinois.  There, they fell to Truman State of the Great Lakes Valley Conference 3-0 on Friday night before playing two matches on Saturday.  On Saturday morning, the Lakers dropped to Missouri S&T, also of the GLVC, 3-1, before rebounding to beat Ohio Dominican of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference 3-1.

The Lakers return home on Friday, October 27th for their final homestand of the season.  Lake Superior takes on GLIAC foe Northern Michigan on Friday at 7 p.m. before facing Michigan Tech on Saturday at 2 p.m.  Both matches will be held in the Bud Cooper Gymnasium.  Tickets for both matches can be purchased at the Norris Center ticket office or by going to lssulakers.com/tickets.

Men's and Women's Cross Country

The men's and women's cross country teams will compete on Saturday, October 21st in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Championships in Marquette.  This year, the championships will be held at Gent'z Homestead Golf Course.  The women's 6K is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., while the men's 8K is set to start at 11:45 a.m.

Both teams have been at four meets this season, with the most recent being the Lansing Community College Invitational on October 6th.  There, the men's team finished in 6th place out of 21 teams, while the women placed 8th of 20 teams.

Mackenzie Richardson led the women's team at Lansing with a 36th place finish, completing the 5K course in 20:31.3.  Sophomore Lydia Heimonen of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, finished in 59th place with a time of 21:11.2.  Heimonen's time was 39 seconds shorter than her finish at the Bay College Invitational on September 30th.

David Mitter of the men's team has led the Lakers at most of their events so far this year, including taking first overall at the Bay College Invitational and followed up his performance at Escanaba on September 30th with a time of 25:59.2, good for seventh place.  Junior Garrett Smith, who was among the top 10 finishers at Escanaba, earned a 13th place finish with a time of 26:35.0.

The next event for cross country is the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional on November 5th.  This year, the regional will be held in Cedarville, Ohio, at the Elvin R. King Cross Country Course.  The women will start at 10:30 a.m. while the men begin at 11:45 a.m.