BY Mike Barrett
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. - The Lake Superior State hockey team opened the season with a 6-2 victory in a non-conference game against the Merrimack College Warriors on Saturday, Oct. 5 at Taffy Abel Arena. Lake Superior, under Head Coach Damon Whitten, prevailed in a rematch of last year's season opener, with a 6-2 win.
Lake Superior (1-0-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) got on the board first when sophomore defenceman Mitchell Oliver fired a shot past Warriors goaltender Jere Huhtamaa. For Oliver, whose shot came from the blue line, it was his first collegiate goal.
Merrimack (0-1-0, 0-0-0 Hockey East) tied things up with a goal late in the period by Chase Gresock. Putting the puck over the shoulder of Laker netminder Mareks Mitens, Gresock sent the teams back to the locker room tied at one goal apiece.
The Lakers restored their lead when junior forward Hampus Eriksson put the puck over the shoulder of Huhtamaa. Merrimack responded a short time later, as Gresock netted his second goal of the night, re-tying the game.
A cross checking penalty to Jordan Seyfert set up Lake Superior's next goal. With Seyfert in the penalty box, Jacob Nordqvist put the Lakers back on top as he notched what would stand as the game winning goal. The Lakers added another before the end of the period when junior Yuki Miura deflected a shot from senior defenseman Collin Saccoman past Huhtamaa, making the score 4-2 Lakers going into the 3rd period.
Following a goal by senior forward Max Humitz which made the score 5-2 Lakers, Merrimack head coach Scott Borek pulled Huhtamaa in favor of freshman netminder Troy Kobryn.
Midway thru the 3rd period, Merrimack received a penalty shot as forward Regan Kimens drew a penalty while on a breakaway. Mitens made the save, preserving the Lakers' lead.
The Lakers tacked on one more goal with an empty netter by Miroslav Mucha with 3:37 remaining in play, sealing the 6-2 final score.
In collecting the win, Mitens made 27 saves on 29 shots. His counterpart Huhtamaa allowed 5 goals on 23 shots, taking the loss. Kobryn stopped all 4 shots he faced in relief.
The Lakers and Warriors will conclude their series on Sunday, October 6th. Game time is scheduled for 5 p.m. EDT. Tickets may be purchased at the Norris Center Ticket Office or online.