Lakers take on Alaska-Anchorage in WCHA action

Photo Courtesy Kati Doty
Photo Courtesy Kati Doty

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – After a four game non-conference road swing, the Lake Superior State hockey team returns home this weekend to face the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves in Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) play.  The Lakers (1-5-2, 0-1-1 WCHA) are coming off of a 0-3-1 road trip, where they registered a tie and a loss against the top-ranked Denver Pioneers, before suffering a sweep down in East Lansing against the Michigan State Spartans.  The games are both scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Taffy Abel Arena.

Last Weekend

Lake Superior was swept in its series against their former Central Collegiate Hockey Association foes, as the Spartans won the Friday game 4-3, and the Saturday game 6-0.  The Seawolves were idle last weekend.

On Friday, the Lakers found themselves trailing 4-0 early in the third period.  A goal on a delayed penalty to Michigan State, coupled with a power play goal on the subsequent man advantage, cut the Spartans' lead in half.  Lake State notched another goal just past the midway point of the period, but were unable to cash in again.

In the Saturday contest, Michigan State scored four goals in the second period en route to a 6-0 win.  Spartans goaltender John Lethemon needed only 15 saves to pick up his first shutout of the season.

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 8 assists for 10 points on the season.  Max Humitz (4-3—7) and Brayden Gelsinger (3-4—7) follow closely behind Henke for the scoring lead. 

Junior forwards Anthony Nellis (3-2—5), 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.  On defense, two newcomers have played in all eight games so far, as William Riedell 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 .915 save percentage and a 3.35 goals against average in five games.  Freshman Mareks Mitens, in three starts season, has a 4.37 GAA and a .900 SV%.

On special teams, the Lakers' power play has proved effective, as they have scored 9 power play goals on 28 attempts (32.1%).  The penalty kill has prevented a power play goal 29 out of 37 tries for a 78.4% rate.

About the Seawolves

Under head coach Matt Thomas, now in his 5th year at the helm of the Seawolves, Alaska-Anchorage has posted a 0-5-1 record.  They have not played any conference games yet, although they did play a non-conference set with Alaska-Fairbanks (much in the same way as the Lakers did with Northern Michigan at the beginning of the season).  The Nanooks swept the Seawolves by scores of 6-2 and 3-2.

Leading Alaska-Anchorage in scoring so far is senior Austin Azurdia (1-4—5), followed by senior Tad Kozun (1-3—4) and freshman Jordan Xavier (3-0—3).  Xavier is the only Seawolf to have scores more than one goal to this point.  Last year's leading scorer, Matt Anholt, has only appered in one game, after accumulating 5 goals and 17 assists in the 2016-17 season.  Losses up front for Anchorage consist of Brad Duwe (4-1—5), Dylan Hubbs (0-4—4) and Connor Wright (1-1—2).

On defense, Jarrett Brown (1-0—1) and Tanner Johnson (0-1—1) return for their senior campaingns.  Joining them are first year players Cameron Trott (1-1—1) and Eric Sinclair (0-0—0).  Sophomores Tomi Hiekkavirta (0-2—2), Mason Anderson (0-0—0) and David Trinkberger (0-0---0) return to round out the defense.  A big loss for the Seawolves on the back end is Chase VanAllen, whose 3 goals and 6 assists made him second in scoring among the Anchorage defenseman last year (Brown had 5 goals and 10 assists in 2016-17.)  Also departed from last year's squad is Eric Roberts.

In goal, Olivier Mantha is back for one more season.  Mantha, who has started for the Seawolves throughout his career, is coming off of a 7-18-4 junior campaign, where he had a 2.82 GAA and a .913 SV%.  Rasmus Reijola, who backed Mantha up last season, graduated and has been replaced by freshmen Kristian Stead and Brody Claeys.  Claeys played 9 minutes of relief for Mantha this year, allowing no goals on 3 shots, while Stead has not seen action yet.

Alaska-Anchorage has seen little success on the power play thus far, as they have only been able to convert on 3 of their 30 attempts so far (a 10% success rate.)  Their penalty kill has been somewhat effective, as their opponents have managed 5 power play goals on 33 tries for an 84.4 penalty kill percentage.

On the Road Again

Following this weekend, the Lakers will be on the road for two weekends, as they pay visits to Bowling Green and Alabama-Huntsville in WCHA play.  The Friday, November 10th game against the Falcons is slated for a 7:37 p.m. puck drop, while the Saturday game will start at the usual 7:07 p.m.  The games in Huntsville will both start at 8:07 p.m. Eastern.

After their road swing, Lake Superior will return home for a five game home stretch.  They will kick it off on Saturday, November 25th with an exhibition against the U.S. National Team Development Program's Under 18 team.  The following weekends will see WCHA foes Alaska-Fairbanks and Minnesota State-Mankato visit the Taffy Abel Arena.  Tickets for those games may be purchased at the Norris Center Ticket Office or online at 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.