SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — No. 19 Lake Superior State clinched home ice in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Quarterfinals with a 5-2 win over Ferris State University on Friday night inside Taffy Abel Arena.
Tonight's Lake State win paired with Bemidji State's 4-1 loss against Minnesota State gives the Lakers home ice for a WCHA Tournament series for the first time since joining the conference in 2013-14.
In addition, the Lakers (21-10-2, 16-9-2-0 WCHA) have matched the win total of the 2006-07 team, which ended the season with a 21-19-3 record. If the Lakers reach 22 wins with another victory over the Bulldogs tomorrow, it will be the most wins in a season since 1995-96 when the Lakers played to a 30-8-2 record.
Ferris State (9-23-3, 6-18-3-0 WCHA) got on the board first, 12:25 into the first period on a power-play goal. The Lakers bounced back 1:27 later when freshman forward and reigning WCHA Rookie of the Month and WCHA Rookie of the Week Ashton Calder notched an unassisted goal, his fifth of the season, to tie it at one apiece. The first twenty minutes ended at that score with the Lakers leading in shots 12-10.
At 5:48 into the second period, sophomore forward Yuki Miura tallied his second goal of the season to give Lake State a 2-1 lead. The goal was assisted by freshman defenseman Alec Semandel for his first point as a Laker, and junior forward Bryan Basilico. Ferris State evened it up at 2-2 with a goal at the 10:12 mark. The Lakers tallied 11 shots during the middle frame, compared to the Bulldogs' 20 shots, bringing the cumulative total at the end of forty minutes to 30-23 in favor of Ferris State.
Semandel notched his first goal as a Laker and his second point of the night 2:07 into the third period, bringing the score to 3-2. Freshman forward Pete Veillette and sophomore forward Hampus Eriksson tallied the assists. Ferris State pulled goaltender Roni Salmenkangas (8-15-2) for the extra attacker in an attempt to tie it up, but Lake State capitalized on the empty net twice. Senior forward Diego Cuglietta notched two empty-netters, one at the 18:49 mark assisted by junior defenseman Collin Saccoman, and one at 19:57 assisted by freshman defenseman Jacob Nordqvist and senior forward Anthony Nellis, giving the Lakers a 5-2 win. Ferris State led in shots on goal 17-16 in the third period and total shots ended 47-39 in favor of Ferris State.
Cuglietta's two goals tonight brings his season total to 22. The last time the Lakers had a 22-goal scorer was the 1996-97 season, when Joe Blaznek and Jason Sessa both notched 22 goals. Cuglietta now has 36 points on the season, which is the most since Terry Marchant tallied 39 during the 1997-98 season.
In net for the Lakers was senior Nick Kossoff (15-5-2), making a season-high 45 saves on 47 shots faced. Salmenkangas saved 34 of the Lakers' 37 shot attempts.
Lake Superior State was 0-for-5 on the man advantage, while Ferris State was 1-for-3.
The Lakers face off against Ferris State for the regular season home finale. The team's seniors will be honored with a ceremony on Saturday for the annual Senior Night. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. and tickets can be purchased at the Norris Center ticket office or online. Tickets may be purchased at the Norris Center Ticket Office or online. For additional ticket information, call (906) 635-2602.
While the Lakers have clinched home ice in the WCHA Quarterfinals, final seeding resulting in Lake State's matchup is still to be determined after tomorrow's games. Games one and two will be held on Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9, with both games beginning at 7 p.m. If necessary, game three will be Sunday, March 10 at 4 p.m. Tickets to the WCHA Quarterfinals hosted by Lake Superior State will go on sale online on Saturday, March 2 at 10 a.m. The Lake Superior State athletic ticket office at the James C. Norris Center will also open for extended hours from 2-6 p.m. on Saturday.
Be sure to follow the Lakers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information and behind-the-scenes action.
Watch head coach Damon Whitten's postgame interview below.