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No. 20 Lakers set sights on road series at Michigan Tech

Photo Courtesy Kati Doty
Photo Courtesy Kati Doty
#20 Lake Superior State vs. Michigan Tech
 Date  Nov. 11-12, 2016 (Friday/Saturday)
 Time  7:07 p.m. ET, Friday & Saturday
 Location  MacInnes Ice Arena (4,466) | Houghton, Mich.


 Windows | TuneIn
 Live Stats  College Hockey Stats
 Game Notes
 Lake Superior State | Michigan Tech
 Twitter  @HockeyLSSU
 LSSU Record  6-2-0, 4-2-0 WCHA
 MTU Record  4-6-2, 3-2-1 WCHA

Coming Up This Weekend

Lake Superior State travels west through Michigan's Upper Peninsula as the newly No. 20 ranked team in the nation to face Western Collegiate Hockey Association rivals Michigan Tech this weekend, the first of three consecutive weekends on the road in November. The weekend slate will feature the 65th and 66th all-time meeting between the schools separated by just 262 miles.

The Lakers are coming off a split with then No.10-ranked Minnesota State at home last weekend and look to maintain the national ranking that came by way of a 5-1 victory over the Mavericks on Friday. A tight 2-1 loss on Saturday gave the Lakers' their second loss of the season and now sit 6-2-0 overall.

Heading into the matchup with the Huskies (4-6-0), the Lakers have a single-point advantage over MTU in the WCHA standings for the fourth spot and trail Alabama-Huntsville by one point for third place.

Laker Log

Sophomore forward Mitch Hults continues to lead the Lakers in scoring with 13 points on the season. The WCHA Player of the Month for October added a pair of assists in Friday's contest and now leads the league in points (13), points per game (1.62), and is tied for the league-lead in assists with nine helpers.

Following Hults in scoring is junior forward J.T. Henke (4-6--10) and sophomore defenseman Owen Headrick (2-8--10), each with 10 points to tie for fourth overall in the WCHA. Also inside the top-10 of league scorers are linemates Brayden Gelsinger (4-5--9) and Gage Torrel (5-4--9), tied with three others at ninth overall.

 Torrel's five goals is also tied with teammate Diego Cuglietta (5-2--7) for the league lead with four others. Torrel and Cuglietta also lead the league in goals per game (.62) followed by Hults, Henke, Gelsinger and freshman Max Humitz; all with .50 goals per game.

Junior defensive partners Aidan Wright and Kyle Chatham have solidified the Lakers' back end, which is giving up just 2.25 goals-against per game. Wright currently leads the WCHA with a +9 rating in eight games and Chatham ranks second with a +8 rating. Freshman defenseman Collin Saccoman ranks tied for third with a +7 rating, while Hults and Cuglietta are tied for sixth at +6. Henke, Torrel and freshman Luke Morgan are all tied for 10th in the league with +5 ratings.

The Lakers offense is clicking for 4.50 goals per game this season, good enough to tie Harvard (3-0-1) for first nationally. Defensively, the Lakers allow just 2.25 goals against per game-tying for 10th nationally.

LSSU ranks third nationally in goal margin with a +18 total and ranks second with a +2.25 goal margin per game. An aggressive bunch, the Lakers lead the WCHA with 19.5 penalty minutes against per game, but have the league's second-ranked penalty kill at 87.8 percent. In fact, the penalty kill has also shown it's ability to score, with three shorthanded goals and only six power-play goals allowed.

The sophomore class, one of the top point-producing classes in the nation as freshmen last season, is leading all sophomore classes in goals, assists and points, and leads the nation in combined points by a single class. Only Union's senior class has scored more goals (21).  The LSSU freshmen have also performed well beyond their years through to start their college hockey careers, leading the WCHA and combining for the fifth-most points by a freshman class in the nation.

This weekend the Lakers travel across the Upper Peninsula to take on rivals Michigan Tech in a two-game series in Houghton.

Tech holds a 38-21-5 advantage over the Lakers and has dominated the series in Houghton, producing a 25-10-2 record over LSSU inside MacInnes Arena.

The Lakers are winless in their last seven games against the Huskies, going 0-6-1 since last winning 4-3 in Sault Ste. Marie on Jan. 3, 2014.

Since the Lakers joined the Huskies in the WCHA, the teams have met 10 times with MTU holding a 7-2-1 advantage.

The Series vs. Michigan Tech

Overall: MTU leads 38-21-5... In Houghton: MTU leads: 25-10-2

Last meeting: Feb.5-6, 2016, MTU won 3-0, MTU won 3-1

Streak: MTU 6-0-1         Last 10: MTU leads 7-2-1

The Lakers joined the Huskies in the WCHA in the 2013-14 season and became yearly opponents. Since joining the league, the Lakers are 2-7-1 in the 10 meetings between the programs and was winless (0-3-1) in four tries last season.

LSSU, which was founded in 1946 as the Soo Tech branch of Michigan Tech, first played varsity hockey against the Huskies in the 1969-70 season. MTU claimed a 6-2 victory in the inaugural meeting in the Soo, before the Lakers picked up a 2-1 decision to split the season series in Houghton.

The Lakers' longest winning streak against the Huskies was six consecutive victories from 1984-93, while the teams played in separate conferences. Tech's longest win streak over the Lakers sits at 10 games, from 1972-77.

Scouting the Huskies

Michigan Tech has gotten off to an unusually slow start for a team that has won more than 20 games in each of the past two seasons. Under the direction of fifth year head coach Mel Pearson, the Huskies are off to a 4-6-2 record this season and are 3-2-1 in WCHA play. After starting 1-5-1 to open the season, the Huskies have responded and are 3-1 in their last two series, a home-and-home sweep of Northern Michigan and a split on the road at Michigan State last weekend.

Junior defenseman Mark Auk leads the Huskies in scoring with two goals and six assists in 11 games. Seniors Reid Sturos (4-2--6) and Shane Hanna (3-3--6) are tied with freshmen Alex Smith (2-4--6) and Mitch Reinke (1-5--6) for second on the team in scoring.

As a group the Huskies are scoring 2.67 goals per game and are allowing 2.75 goals against.

Freshman Angus Redmond appears to have taken over the starting role between the pipes for MTU, starting each of the last four games. Redmond is 3-1-0 on the season and has a 1.66 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in five appearances.

Last Week Against the Mavericks (Friday: 5-1, W | Saturday: 2-1, L)

The Lakers (6-2-0) cruised in a 5-1 romp over the Mavericks on Friday evening, scoring five goals from five different players as junior goaltender Gordon Defiel made 24 saves for the victory.

In Saturday's series finale the Lakers lost in a tight 2-1 affair. The Mavericks were backstopped by Jason Pawloski's 19 saves and scored both a power play goal and shorthanded goal. Despite the loss on Saturday, junior goaltender Gordon Defiel was strong throughout the weekend, saving 47 of 50 shots faced for a .940 save percentage, the highest among league goaltenders to play both games on the weekend.

Friday's victory was the second time the Lakers earned a victory over MSU in 15 tries.

Poll Position

The split over the nation's 10th-ranked team last weekend was viewed successful enough in the eyes of the voters to jump the Lakers from receiving 44 votes in each of the previous two Division I Men's College Hockey Polls, to a 20th ranking and 72 votes in Monday's (Nov. 7) poll. The Lakers, along with the Mavericks (11th) and Bemidji State (15th) represent the three WCHA teams inside the top-20.

Looking Ahead (at Ferris State, Nov. 18-19 | at Michigan, Nov. 25-26)

The Lakers stay in-state and travel to Michigan's Lower Peninsula in each of the following two weeks after this weekend's matchup with Michigan Tech. Next weekend the Lakers face WCHA rivals Ferris State in a two-game series held in Ewigleben Ice Arena on Nov. 18-19.

The defending WCHA Tournament Champion Bulldogs are off to a slow 2-8-1 start to the 2016-17 campaign, averaging just 2.27 goals per game, seventh in the WCHA, and rank sixth allowing 3.18 goals against.

The Lakers wrap up the month of November at Yost Ice Arena facing former Central Collegiate Hockey Association rivals Michigan for a two-game nonconference set. The Wolverines are currently ranked 18th in the poll with a 4-3-1 record to start the season.

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 Ave. every Tuesday night starting at 6 p.m. and can be heard on WKNW ESPN Radio 1400 or you can catch up on any shows you have missed through podcasts that will be made available on

Laker Hockey Talk 

Laker Hockey Talk, also on ESPN 1400, returns this year on Thursday mornings at 8:30 a.m. Bill Crawford and Damon Whitten preview the upcoming weekend's match up. Podcasts for the Laker Hockey Talk show will also be available at

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 906-635-0568. 

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.