Lakers travel to East Lansing to face off against Michigan State

Photo courtesy Kati Doty
Photo courtesy Kati Doty

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Lake Superior State's hockey team continues its road swing this weekend, when they pay a visit to Munn Ice Arena, home of the Michigan State Spartans.  The Lakers and Spartans, once conference foes in the now-defunct Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA), will meet in non-conference play for the third straight season.  In their series last season, the Lakers defeated Michigan State by scores of 6-1 and 7-3 in Sault Ste. Marie during Great Lake State Weekend.  The games are on Friday, October 27th and Saturday, October 28th.  Both start at 7 p.m.

Last Week

Lake Superior (1-3-2, 0-1-1-0 WCHA) travelled to Denver, taking on the defending national champion Pioneers.  On Friday night, Lakers goaltender Nick Kossoff faced a seemingly-unending barrage of shots from the Pioneers, who had hung their National Champions banner before the game.  Kossoff's 63 saves broke the school record set by Matt Violin (60 saves) in 2003.  Lake Superior forwards Brayden Gelsinger and Max Humitz gave the Lakers a 2-0 lead early in the second period.  Denver fought back to tie the game with about 8 minutes left in regulation, but Jake Hand of the Lakers un-tied the game with 5:34 to go.  Another Denver goal exactly 2 minutes later sent the game to overtime, where the score remained unchanged.  Although the Pioneers scored a goal in an exhibiton 3-on-3 overtime, the game goes down in the books as a 3-3 tie.

On Saturday, Mareks Mitens got the start in net for Lake Superior, who scored first with a redirection by Josh Nenadal.  Denver continued peppering Laker goaltending with shots, but Mitens, who tallied 49 saves on the night, kept the Lakers in the game.  A power play goal late in the second period gave the Pioneers the lead, which they built upon in the third period with three goals en route to a 5-1 win over Lake Superior. 

Michigan State (2-2-0, 0-0-0 Big Ten) played a home-and-home set against Western Michigan, another former CCHA rival.  The Spartans won the Friday night affair 6-4 at home, with Mitchell Lewandowski scoring the game winning goal with only 1:26 left in regulation.  Michigan State then suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Broncos in Kalamazoo.  Patrick Khodorenko of the Spartans tied the game early in the third, only to see the Broncos retake the lead two minutes later.  Goaltender John Lethemon, whom the Lakers saw last year, started both games and posted a .885 save percentage.

About the Lakers

Through six games, the Lakers are 1-3-2 overall, and 0-1-1 in conference play.  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, before their series with Denver last weekend.

Leading the Lakers in scoring is senior forward J.T. Henke.  Henke, a native of Trenton, Michigan, has 2 goals and 6 assists for 8 points on the season.  Five of those points came against Michigan Tech, which the WCHA recognized by naming him Offensive Player of the Week.

Junior forwards Anthony Nellis (3-1—4), Diego Cuglietta (2-2—4) and Jake Hand (2-1—3) 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 (3-2—5) who was named to the WCHA All-Rookie Team following last season.

On defense, three newcomers have played in all six 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 .919 save percentage and a 3.21 goals against average in four games.  For his record-setting efforst against Denver, Kossoff was named WCHA Goaltender of the Week.  Freshman Mareks Mitens, in two starts season, has a 3.36 GAA and a .927 SV%.

About the Spartans

For the third time this season, Lake Superior will face a team with a new bench boss, as Michigan State hired Danton Cole to replace Tom Anastos.  Anastos resigned following last season, in which the Spartans posted a 7-24-4 record (the lowest win total for the program since 1977-78) and a 3-14-3 record in conference play.  Cole comes to Michigan State via the USA Hockey National Team Development Program in Plymouth, Michigan, where he coached from 2010 to 2017.  Prior to that, Cole was the head coach of a current conference foe of the Lakers in Alabama-Huntsville.

Through four games, the Spartans are led by Khodorenko (3-3—6), Taro Hirose (2-4—6) and Lewandowski (1-5—6).  Carson Gatt (0-3—3) leads the blue line in scoring.

In net, sophomore Lethemon has played the majority of the minutes, and currently has a 2.36 GAA and a .917 SV%.  Ed Minney, a junior, has only played in one game this year, allowing 3 goals in 10 minutes of play.

Among the losses to graduation for Michigan State are forwards Thomas Ebbing (3-13—16), William Haag (7-8—15) and Joe Cox (6-8—14).  Also departed is 2016-17 leading scorer Mason Appleton.  Appleton, a 2015 draft pick by the Winnipeg Jets, is playing in the Jets' minor league system.

On the back end, seniors Dylan Pavelek and Gatt, sophomore Anthony Scarsella and junior Zach Osburn return. Rhett Holland (3-5—8) was the only graduation loss on the blueline for the Spartans.

There's no place like home

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.

Following that weekend, the Lakers will continue conference play by travelling to Bowling Green and Alabama-Huntsville.  The next home game for Lake Superior will be an exhibition game against the US NDTP Under 18 team on Saturday, November 25th at 7:07 p.m. 

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.