SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Fourth-seeded Lake Superior State (21-11-2, 16-10-2-0 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) is set to host fifth-seeded Bemidji State (15-15-6, 13-11-4-2 WCHA) in a best-of-three quarterfinals series on Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday (if necessary) at 4 p.m. at Taffy Abel Arena.
Tickets may be purchased at the Norris Center Ticket Office or online for $14 per ticket. The Lake Superior State athletic ticket office at the James C. Norris Center will be open for extended hours from noon to 6 p.m. on Thursday. For additional ticket information, call (906) 635-2601.
The radio broadcast will be on 99.5 Yes FM and the series will be streamed on FloHockey.TV.
Hosting the WCHA Quarterfinals
After missing the WCHA postseason last year, Lake Superior State earned the fourth-seed in the 2019 WCHA Playoffs to host this weekend’s quarterfinals series with fifth-seeded Bemidji State.
The Lakers are hosting a WCHA Playoff series for the first time since joining the conference in 2013-14. The Lakers last hosted a home playoff series, as members of the CCHA, when they faced Bowling Green in 2012-13.
The Lakers’ last win at home in the playoffs came on March 8, 2013 when Lake Superior State defeated Bowling Green 2-0.
Lake Superior State last swept a home playoff series when the Lakers defeated Alaska (4-3, 2-0) during the CCHA postseason on March 2-3, 2012.
The Lakers last WCHA Playoffs victory was a 2-0 win at Minnesota State on March 12, 2016.
Last Time on the Ice
Lake Superior State split a two-game series vs. Ferris State last weekend. The Lakers won 5-2 on Friday before suffering a 3-2 setback on Saturday.
Senior center Diego Cuglietta (23-14--37) scored three goals in the series with Ferris State last weekend. His 23 goals scored are the most goals in a season since Sean Tallaire netted 32 goals in 1995-96. He also enters the weekend tied with Arizona State’s Johnny Walker for the national lead in goals scored.
Lake Superior State finished the 2018-19 regular season in fourth place in the WCHA standings with a 16-10-2-0 conference record and 50 points. Minnesota State claimed the regular-season title with 68 points, Northern Michigan was second with 56 points, Bowling Green was third with 55 points, Bemidji State was fifth with 45 points, Michigan Tech was sixth with 43 points, Alaska was seventh with 40 points and Alabama Huntsville was eighth with 28 points.
Lake Superior State is ranked No. 20 in the most recent USCHO Poll. Minnesota State (No. 4) and Bowling Green (No. 15) are the other WCHA teams ranked in the USCHO Poll. The Lakers have been ranked in nine consecutive polls, dating back to Jan. 7.
Senior center Diego Cuglietta (23-14--37) enters the weekend leading the WCHA in faceoff wins (454), while ranking sixth in faceoff win percentage (.547). He enters the weekend with 62 more faceoff wins than Michigan Tech’s Dylan Steman (392), who is second in the WCHA. Cuglietta is second in the nation in faceoff wins – trailing North Dakota’s Rhett Gardner (502).
Sophomore forward Hampus Eriksson (2-10--12) leads the Lakers and ranks fourth in the WCHA with a .589 faceoff win percentage. Eriksson has 218 faceoff wins in 2018-19.
As a team, the Lakers rank second in the WCHA and 16th nationally with a .523 faceoff win percentage.
With their 21-11-2 record, Lake State has won more games than it won all of last season when the Lakers finished 10-22-4. The last time the Lakers won 21 games was 2006-07, when the team ended the season with a 21-19-3 record. If the Lakers reach 22 wins, it will be the most wins in a season since 1995-96 when the Lakers played to a 30-8-2 record.
100 Career Points
Senior center Diego Cuglietta (48-48--96, career totals) is closing in on 100 career points. The last Laker to tally 100 career points was Domenic Monardo (49-52--101), who was a member of the Lakers from 2009-13.
All-Time Goal Scorer
Senior center Diego Cuglietta (48-48--96, career totals) ranks 31st in program history with 48 career goals. Domenic Monardo (2009-13) and Ron Sandzik (1975-79) are tied for 29th on the Laker goal scoring list with 49 goals each. Bob Ciotii (1978-81) and Doug Weight (1989-91) are tied for 27th place with 50 goals each.
The Lakers have scored 115 goals this season as a team, which is more than they scored all of last season (76). The Lakers’ 115 goals is the most they have scored in a season since 1996-97.
Keeping Up With the Hobey Baker Award Nominees
In last weekend’s series with Ferris State, Cuglietta scored three goals to become the first Lakers to score at least 23 goals in a season since Sean Tallaire netted 32 goals in 1995-96. Nellis tallied an assist in Friday’s 5-2 win.
Fan voting for the 2019 Hobey Baker Award is ongoing. Fans are allowed to cast a vote for one player each day by going to https://www.hobeybaker.com/
Freshman winger Ashton Calder (5-15--20), playing for his hometown Lakers, earned WCHA Rookie of the Month honors for the second consecutive month after garnering three goals, four assists, seven points and a +3 rating to help Lake Superior State to a 4-2-0 record in February.
In the Plus
Sixteen Lakers have a +1 or better plus-minus rating this season. Senior forwards Diego Cuglietta (23-14--37) and Gage Torrel (7-18--25) are tied for the team lead at +20. Junior defenseman Collin Saccoman (9-13--22) is third on the team at +17. Sophomore defenseman Lukas Kaelble (1-21--22) and freshman defenseman Jacob Nordqvist (3-13--16) are tied for fourth at +16.
Cuglietta and Torrel are in a three-way tie for the second-best plus-minus in the WCHA. They also rank tied for 13th nationally.
The Magic Man
Junior defenseman Collin Saccoman (9-13--22) enters this week tied for the eighth-most goals scored by a defenseman in NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey, while ranking third in the nation among all skaters in blocked shots (83). His goal total leads WCHA blueliners and he is second among all WCHA players in blocked shots.
Twenty different Lakers have scored a goal this season, including 16 who have scored multiple goals. Senior center Diego Cuglietta (23-14--37) is tied for first in goals scored nationally. Cuglietta is followed in goals scored by senior winger Anthony Nellis (14-17--31) and junior forward Max Humitz (14-16--30). Junior forward Brayden Gelsinger (10-13--23) is fourth and junior defenseman Collin Saccoman (9-13--22) — the leading goal scorer among WCHA defensemen — is fifth on the team in goals scored.
Head Coach Damon Whitten's Preview
Facing the Beavers
Fifth-seeded Bemidji State (15-15-6, 13-11-4-2 WCHA) enters the WCHA Quarterfinals having lost three of its last four games, including being swept in a two-game WCHA series at No. 4 Minnesota State last weekend. The Beavers lost 4-1 on Friday and 3-1 on Saturday.
The Beavers are led in goal scoring by sophomore forward Charlie Combs (11-10--21), sophomore forward Aaron Miller (11-9--20) and freshman forward Owen Sillinger (10-8--18). Senior defenseman Justin Baudry (8-22--30) leads the team in both assists and points.
The Lakers and Beavers split a two-game WCHA series at Taffy Abel Arena on Jan. 25-26. The Lakers won the first game 5-2, before dropping the series finale 5-3.
The winner of the series between the Lakers and the Beavers will move on to the WCHA Semifinals from March 15 to March 17. The two highest remaining seeds will host a best-of-three series. The winners of the semifinals series will advance to the 2019 WCHA Championships game, played at the higher seed, on March 23.
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