Wednesday, December 30, 2009

LSSU Lakers Ice Hockey Ready to Start Seasons Second Half

After finishing the first half of the 2009/2010 season four wins better than the same point last season the Lake Superior State University ice hockey team heads to Pennsylvania this weekend to start what could be the toughest second half schedule of any CCHA team.

After a pair of games against Robert Norris this weekend, who split with the Lakers at home last year, five of the eight teams LSSU will face in the second half are currently ranked in the nations top 20 including #1 Miami of Ohio, #12 Ferris State and #13 Michigan State. Tack on a season final match up against Upper Peninsula rivals Northern Michigan in Marquette and the Lakers could be primed to turn in an overall great season.

LSSU Lakers mens ice hockey head coach Jim Roque. FILE PHOTO - Eagle FI

“We’re excited we had a decent first half” said Lakers head coach Jim Roque, “we have the opportunity to have a great season.” Roque says confidence is a big plus for his team heading into the second half. “We’ve got some good older players” said Roque in a telephone interview Wednesday. “The last three games (before the holiday break) we started scoring goals and played better defensively”. “Our confidence has been dictated by our goalie.” he added. “Brian has played really well”. Brian Mahoney-Wilson’s team leading .920 save percentage “helps give other players the confidence to play better. They know it’s okay if they make a mistake.”

In addition to continued goal tending success the Lakers are going to need players who have had led in the first half to continue to produce. Players like junior Chad Nehring who leads the team in goals heading into the second half with eleven including six power play goals that account for 50 % of the teams total of twelve power play scores. Junior Rick Schofield who tops the individual points earners with 9 goals and 9 assists and senior forward Zac McVoy who’s team high 12 assists added to his four goals put him in second place of the individual points count with 16.

Currently in sole possession of fifth place in the CCHA almost every remaining game for the Lakers will be against another one of the leagues top seven teams. “They’re always tough games” says Roque of second half contests. With only seven points separating the second and fifth place teams every series in the second half has the chance of drastically altering LSSU’s league standings and whether or not they can call their season a success. Considering that only one team in the first half really dominated the Lakers, chances of a good finish are certainly within their reach.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lakers Sweep Northern, Claim Fifth Place in CCHA

NMU's Greger Hanson (left) and LSSU's Zach Trotman (5) chase a loose puck into the corner during the third period of Saturday nights game at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie.

Heading into the third period of the LSSU Lakers game against the NMU Wildcats Saturday night at Taffy Abel Arena it looked like it was going to be a carbon copy of the previous nights win by the home team Lakers. That was prior to the Wildcats turning up the heat and fighting back to within one with less than eight minutes to play.

LSSU senior forward Zac MacVoy put the Lakers on the scoreboard first beating NMU starting goaltender Reid Ellingson less than ten seconds into the first power play of the night. Concluding the first periods scoring junior forward Will Acton made it two nothing in favor of the home team on the second Laker power play opportunity.

LSSU's Chad Nehring (16) watches as NMU goaltender Brian Stewart (right) reaches for a rolling puck Saturday at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie.

Reversing their roles from Friday night, NMU’s Ellingson, who got the starting nod in goal from Wildcats coach Walt Kyle, was replaced by senior Brian Stewart just over half way through the first period. Coach Kyle acknowledged that goaltending has been a concern for the Wildcats ”It’s been an issue for us” he said in post game interviews.

Lakers junior Rick Schofield picked up his eighteenth point of the year when he scored the only goal of the second period by either team.

NMU's Jared Brown (15) gets ready to backhand the puck past LSSU goalie Brian Mahoney-Wilson (35) for one of his two third period goals Saturday night at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie.

NMU junior Jared Brown put the Wildcats on the board scoring three and a half minutes into the third period. He racked up his second of the night less than three minutes later when he beat Lakers goalie Brian Mahoney-Wilson on a short handed breakaway narrowing the Lakers lead to one goal. A minute and a half later LSSU senior John Scrymgeour returned the favor by scoring shorthanded against NMU net minder Stewart.

LSSU's John Scrymgeour celebrates after scoring a shorthanded goal against NMU Saturday at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie.

Wildcats Senior T.J. Miller brought the score back to within one with 7:43 left to play but empty net goals by the Lakers Zac MacVoy and Chad Nehring put the game out of reach and into the win column for LSSU.

The last games before the holiday break, the weekend sweep of the Wildcats extends the Lakers current winning streak to four, their longest of the season and puts them into sole possession of fifth place in the CCHA standings. “I think it was a really big weekend” said Lakers head coach Jim Roque. “It’ll be crazy over there at the end of the year.” referring to the two games the Lakers will play at NMU in February.

LSSU goaltender Brian Mahoney-Wilson (right) slides to block a breakaway shot by NMU's Andrew Cherniwchan (23) Saturday at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie.

The Lakers next game will be against Robert Morris on January 2nd and 3rd before facing off against number fourteen Michigan State on January 8th and 9th.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Lakers Power Past Wildcats In First Of Two

LSSU's Fred Cassiani (13) breaks toward the net around NMU's Ray Kaunisto (left)during the second peiod of the Lakers Friday night game against the Wildcats at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie.

Lake Superior State University hockey team was less than a minute away from their second shut out of the year when Northern Michigan Universities Phil Fox jammed the puck in for the Wildcats only score in their 5 to 1 lose to the home team Lakers at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie last night.

LSSU's Rick Schofield watches the puck after a faceoff during the second period of the Lakers Friday night game against the NMU Wildcats at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie.

Lakers co-captain and individual points leader Rick Schofield started the Lakers scoring on what would be the first of the nights combined 12 power plays just over four minutes into the first period. He tallied the Lakers second goal less than three minutes later when he beat Wildcats starting net minder Brian Stewart on a shorthanded opportunity upping his point total to 17 for the year.

LSSU's Ben Power reacts after scoring during the third period of the Lakers Friday night game against the NMU Wildcats at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie.

Freshman forward Ben Power and sophomore forward Fred Cassiani added to LSSU’s lead both scoring in the third period sending NMU’s visibly frustrated Stewart to the bench. The Lakers Chad Nehring scored the games only even strength goal of the night when he sent the puck past the glove hand of the Wildcats Reid Ellingson just over 15 minutes into the final period.

NMU goaltender Reid Ellingson reaches unsuccessfully for the puck during the third period of the Wildcats Frisy night game against the LSSU Lakers at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie.

Prior to last nights game contests at Taffy Abel Arena were relatively low penalty affairs. One ten minute misconduct, one five minute holding call, two goaltender interference calls and three after the whistle roughing calls as tempers flared late in the third all helped bring the nights combined number of penalties to 19. The ten Lakers penalties were almost double their season average of 5.2 per game.

Referees try to break up a third period brawl between the LSSU Lakers and NMU Wildcats Friday night at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
LSSU's Matt Cowie (7) looks on as the Lakers starting goalie Brian Mahoney-Wilson (35) makes one of his 30 saves during the second period of the Lakers Friday night game against WMU at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie.
Lakers starting goaltender Brian Mahoney-Wilson made 30 saves on the night while NMU’s Stewart stopped 33 of the 37 he faced and Ellingson stopped 6. The Lakers and Wildcats will face off again tonight in Taffy Abel Arena at 7:05 p.m.