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Laker Hockey Advances to WCHA Semifinals with 3-1 Win Over Bemidji State


SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — Fourth-seeded Lake Superior State defeated fifth-seeded Bemidji State 3-1 to claim a Western Collegiate Hockey Association Quarterfinal series win on Saturday night in Taffy Abel Arena. With the win, the Lakers advance to the semifinal round of the 2019 WCHA Playoffs.

Lake Superior State (23-11-2), which sealed its first home postseason series victory since defeating Alaska (4-3, 2-0) on March 2-3, 2012 (as members of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association) will now face top-seeded Minnesota State in a best-of-three WCHA Semifinals series, beginning on Friday in Mankato, Minnesota.

After the first twenty minutes of play, Lake Superior State (23-11-2) and Bemidji State (15-17-6) were deadlocked at zero apiece and the Beavers led in shots 11-9. 

The Lakers took the first lead of the night midway through the second period as junior forward Max Humitz scored at the 9:29 mark. Freshman defenseman Jacob Nordqvist and senior forward Anthony Nellis assisted on the goal. However, Bemidji State bounced back a few minutes later — tying it up with a goal from Justin Baudry 12:01 into the second period. The Lakers added 17 shots during the second frame and the Beavers notched 12, bringing shot totals through forty minutes to 26-23 in favor of LSSU.

Sophomore forward Hampus Eriksson regained the lead for Lake State in the third period on the man advantage, with Nordqvist notching his second assist of the night and senior forward Diego Cuglietta tallying the secondary assist at the 6:30 mark of the third period. The Lakers sealed the deal with an empty-net goal — scored by junior defenseman Collin Saccoman and assisted by Cuglietta at the 19:22 mark to capture the 3-1 win. 

Shots were 40-34 in favor of Bemidji State.

Senior netminder Nick Kossoff (17-6-2) made 39 saves for the Lakers and Zach Driscoll (10-11-4) made 31 saves for the Beavers.

The Lakers were 1-for-3 on the man advantage and the Beavers were 0-for-1.

With his two assists, Cuglietta now leads the WCHA with 40 points this season. He also leads NCAA Division I Men's Hockey in goals (24), while tying for 12th in points. In addition, Cuglietta is the first Laker to tally 40 points in a season since Joe Blaznek and Jason Sessa garnered 46 and 44 points, respectively, in 1996-97. Cuglietta now has 99 career points (49-50--99).

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Watch head coach Damon Whitten's postgame interview below.