BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — By earning a hard-fought 4-2 Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) win at the Robert L. Ewigleben Ice Arena, the Lake Superior State hockey team completed a sweep of the Ferris State Bulldogs on the road for the first time since 1993.
Under head coach Damon Whitten, Lake Superior, who came into the weekend ranked No. 20 in the U.S. College Hockey Online poll, continues to make the push for a home ice playoff series.
Both teams had great opportunities early, as the Bulldogs (7-20-1, 4-15-1 WCHA) had two posts while Lake Superior (18-8-2, 13-7-2 WCHA) had a couple of close chances denied by Ferris State goaltender Roni Salmenkangas. Although the game began as a hard-hitting affair, the opening period gradually shifted to several end to end rushes by both teams. Despite the nonstop action, neither Salmenkangas nor Laker goaltender Mareks Mitens were victimized in the first 20 minutes of play.
Early in the second period, Ferris State broke the scoreless tie when Jake Transit collected a rebound and fired it past Mitens, who just missed getting back into position from the initial shot.
Much like they did on Friday, however, Lake Superior did not allow the Bulldog lead to last for long. Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan native Chase Gamelin earned his first goal with the Lakers, swatting the puck through a screen set up by junior Brendan McKay and behind Salmenkangas.
Less than two minutes later, the Lakers took the lead when senior Diego Cuglietta carried the puck behind the net, where he found junior Max Humitz in front of the net. The native of Livonia, Michigan grabbed Cuglietta's pass and immediately uncorked the shot for his 12th goal of the season.
Ferris State tied the game up late in the period when Jacob Hetz squeezed the puck beneath Mitens and into the goal. The Lakers, however, responded with under a minute to play in the period. Senior forward Gage Torrel fed the puck to junior defenseman Collin Saccoman, who backhanded the puck just under the crossbar. For Saccoman, who hails from Stillwater, Minnesota, it was his 9th goal of the season, which stands as the best among WCHA defensemen.
Benefitting from a lengthy two-man advantage, senior forward Anthony Nellis gave Lake Superior some breathing room with his 3rd goal of the weekend around the 7:00 mark of the final period. While the Bulldogs pressed hard, Mitens and the Lakers did not yield another goal, making the 4-2 score stand as the final.
In earning the victory, Mitens made 26 saves on 28 shots. Salmenkangas, his counterpart, made 30 saves out of 34.
Both teams had five power play chances, with the Lakers connecting on one chance, while Ferris State was fruitless in all of their opportunities.
Wins for Lake Superior at Ewigleben Arena have been rare in the past several years, but sweeps have been virtually unheard of. The last sweep of the Bulldogs in Big Rapids came on October 29 & 30, 1993 when the Lakers beat Bob Daniels' team by 4-1 and 9-2 scores.
Following this weekend, the Lakers will have a bye week before hosting Upper Peninsula rival Michigan Tech at the Taffy Abel Arena Feb. 15-16. Tickets may be purchased at the Norris Center Ticket Office or online.