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No. 18 Lakers Drop Series Opener at No. 6/7 Minnesota State 5-3

Diego Cuglietta with the puck.

MANKATO, Minn. — No. 18 Lake Superior State hockey suffered a 5-3 setback against No. 6/7 Minnesota State in the first game of a two-game Western Collegiate Hockey Association series on Friday night at Verizon Center.

Lake Superior State (14-7-2, 9-6-2-0 WCHA) allowed the first three goals of the game and its comeback attempt came up short — ending the Lakers' eight-game unbeaten streak.

Lake State was outscored 2-0 in the first period of play. Nick Rivera got Minnesota State (19-5-1, 13-3-0-0 WCHA) on the scoreboard with a short-handed goal at 8:10 of the first period. Then, Max Coatta scored the second goal of the first period at 17:30.

In the second period, the Lakers were outscored 2-1 and they trailed 4-1 going into the second intermission. After Wyatt Aamodt scored for the Mavericks at 3:56 of the period to make the score 3-0, the Lakers fought back as senior center Diego Cuglietta tallied his 17th goal of the season — the second-highest goal total in the nation — as he buried a wrist shot from the slot at the 12:57 mark to make the score 3-1. Freshman winger Ashton Calder and junior winger Max Humitz assisted on the goal. However, the Mavericks answered back as Julian Napravnik scored on a 5-on-3 power play at 19:56 of the period to make the score 4-1.

Early on in the third period, the Lakers applied pressure on the Mavericks and it paid off when Humitz scored his ninth goal of the season, asisted by sophomore defenseman Tyler Anderson and senior winger Anthony Nellis, to make the score 4-2 at the 1:17 mark. The Lakers kept attacking and it looked as though they might score again, but the Mavericks' Parker Toumie got behind the Laker defense and scored on a breakaway to put the Lakers down 5-2 at the 8:10 mark. The Lakers' freshman winger Melvin Karlsson scored the final goal of the night — his second of the season — at 16:15 of the third period. Junior winger Brayden Gelsinger and senior center Gage Torrel assisted on the play. The Lakers were unable to score again as the game ended with a 5-3 final in favor of Minnesota State.

Senior netminder Nick Kossoff (11-3-2) made 29 saves for Lake Superior State, while freshman Dryden McKay (12-4-1) stopped 23 shots for Minnesota State.

Lake Superior State had 26 shots on goal compared to 34 for Minnesota State.

The Lakers finished 0-of-2 on the power play with one short-handed goal allowed, while the Mavericks were 1-of-6 on the man advantage.

With his goal, Cuglietta has scored a goal in six of his last seven games played. He has also recorded a point in eight of his last nine games played — tallying 10 goals and three assists for 13 points over that span.  

Humitz, the reigning WCHA Forward of the Week, is now on a six-game point streak. Over his streak, Humitz has garnered six goals and seven assists for 13 points. 

Cuglietta and Nellis are both 2019 Hobey Baker Award nominees. Fans are allowed to cast a vote for one player each day by going to

Lake Superior State and Minnesota State conclude their two-game WCHA series on Saturday at Verizon Center. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:07 p.m. EST.

The Lakers return home to face WCHA foe Bemidji State on Jan. 25-26 at Taffy Abel Arena. Both games are slated for 7 p.m.

On Friday, Jan. 25, Laker Hockey will host the ninth annual 'White Out' domestic and sexual violence awareness night, in partnership with the Diane Peppler Center and the Sexual Violence Prevention Team of the Eastern Upper Peninsula. The first 1,000 fans to enter Taffy Abel Arena will receive a free shirt to wear at the game. Tickets may be purchased at the Norris Center Ticket Office or online. For additional ticket information, call (906) 635-2602.

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