Sunday, January 24, 2010

LSSU Tops Notre Dame in Overtime Shootout

Lake Superior State goalie Brian Mahoney-Wilson moves to make an overtime shootout save against Notre Dame in Saturday's overtime shootout in Sault Ste. Marie.

An outstanding career high 45 saves by Notre Dame starting goaltender Mike Johnson was enough to earn the Irish a tie with the home team Lake Superior State Lakers Saturday night in Sault Ste. Marie but not the win. The Lakers picked up two of the three possible conference points by winning the overtime shootout 1-0.

It took less than twenty seconds for the first player to be ejected from the Lakers, Notre Dame game Saturday night and both teams seemed to take it personally as they proceeded to rack up a combined 18 penalties for a total of 68 minutes including calls for spraying the goaltender and embellishment.

Notre Dame's Kevin Deeth (center) gets a hand from team mate Kyle Lawson (2) and the Irish trainer after taking a hit in the first period of their Saturday night game against Lake Superior State Saturday night in Sault Ste. Marie.

Less than 24 hours after Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson complained to the media about the number of bad hits his team has been taking this year the Lakers individual points leader Rick Schofield was disqualified from play at 00:15 on the official score sheet for a hit on Notre Dame’s Kevin Deeth. Seven and half minutes later LSSU’s Dan Barczuk was ejected for a hard check from behind that started a brawl in the Irish zone. Fans booed and cheered and players from both benches exchanged verbal taunts and hand gestures as penalties appeared, disappeared then reappeared on the scoreboard as officials sorted out the resulting 31 minutes of penalties.

Notre Dame right winger Kevin Nugent (20) and goaltender Mike Johnson (center) look on as LSSU's Nick McParland (10) celebrates the Lakers third period goal during Saturday nights game in Sault Ste. Marie.

Even with seven opportunities, including one in the overtime period, neither team managed a power play goal. The first score during regulation play came 59 seconds past the third period halfway mark when LSSU’s Zach Trotman, assisted by Pat Aubry and Steven Kaunisto beat Notre Dame goalie Mike Johnson giving the Lakers the games first lead. 23 seconds later Notre Dame’s Kyle Palmieri and Riley Sheahan set up left winger Nick Larson who got the puck past LSSU net minder Brian Mahoney-Wilson to even the score at one.

Lake Superior State's Domenic Monardo (left) puts the puck between the legs of Notre Dame goaltender Mike Johnson (right) for the winning goal in Saturday's overtime shootout in Sault Ste. Marie.

With the score stilled tied at one at the end of the five minute overtime period Notre Dame’s Ben Ryan was the first to skate in the tie breaker shootout. Ryan’s attempt failed to get the puck past the Lakers Mahoney-Wilson opening the door for the first LSSU shooter Domenic Monardo. Monardo picked up the puck at center ice and drove towards Notre Dames Mike Johnson scoring between the goaltenders knees and giving the Lakers the lead. With neither of the other two Irish shooters being able to score the Lakers walked away from the evening with two of the three points available for the nights game.

“Lake State played with a lot more energy, which I expected them to” said Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson “For us to come out with a win and a tie, hey I’ll take that anytime of the day.” Coach Jackson noted the outstanding play of the Irish defensemen who played almost 30 minutes each.

Looking down the road to the CCHA playoffs the points from this weekend and all of the remaining regular season games continue go grow in importance. A top four finish and a first round bye for Notre Dame could be big for team that has been struggling to get their full roster healthy. “It could be a big factor for us from an injury perspective.” said Jackson “We may be able to get a couple of guys back at that point.” “The extra week could certainly potentially help us.”

While results from this weekends series may not have been huge for Notre Dame’s playoff aspirations they could have a big effect on LSSU’s bid for a top four spot in the standings. The Lakers final four match ups are probably the toughest in the CCHA and depending on the outcome of the leagues review of the major penalties assessed in Saturdays game to Schofield and Barczuk coach Jim Roque could be facing conference leading Miami of Ohio in two weeks without one or both of them.

The Lakers have next weekend off before hitting the road to face Miami of Ohio, then back to the Sault for their final home stand of the season against Ferris State.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Notre Dame Tops #18 Lakers

Notre Dame goaltender Mike Johnson watches a blocked shot bounce away during Friday's game against Lake Superior State in Sault Ste. Marie.

Coming off a good showing against now tenth in the nation Michigan State last weekend the Notre Dame mens ice hockey team delivered the message that they are not out for the count as they captured an important road win against their CCHA rival Lake Superior State Lakers. The six to one victory moves the Irish three points closer to the top of the CCHA standings and what could be a much needed first round playoff bye.

"I was kind of surprised" said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson after the Friday night game "its been such a long first half as far as scoring goals, for us to score goals is a good thing." "We just needed to be patient, we had to play a good road game and I thought we did."

The Lakers Steven Kaunisto started the scoring when he beat Notre Dame starting goalie Mike Johnson from just inside the blue line one second past the two minute mark of the first. Notre Dame's Ryan Thang evened the score at one at 13:41 to close out the periods scoring.

Lake Superior State goaltender Pat Inglis stares down a shot from Notre Dame's Riley Sheahan Friday night in Sault Ste. Marie.

The second period was all Notre Dame as the Lakers where unable to slow down the Irish offensive pressure. Irish junior Ben Ryan and sophomore Patrick Gaul both scored within the first seven minutes of the period upping the score to 3 - 1. Less than two minutes later junior Calle Ridderwall beat LSSU starting goalie Brian Mahoney-Wilson for Notre Dame's fourth score sending him to the bench. Ridderwall didn't do much for replacement goalie Pat Inglis' stats beating him twice before the end of the period to raise the Irish lead to five and complete a single period hat trick.

Neither team managed to find the back of the net in the third making Ridderwall's final goal the end of the evenings scoring. "We had a bad second period." said Lakers head coach Jim Roque. "They were way more desparate and hungry for the puck. We need a great effort tomorrow night to get a split." "We've got to play with more energy."

The one bright spot for the Lakers was their power play kill. Even with several opportunities the Irish's tied for best in the CCHA power play managed only one goal on a five on three chance in the second.

Notre Dame's Ian Cole lays on the ice after a hard check during the Irish's Friday night game against Lake Superior State in Sault Ste. Marie.

Already paying without several of their key players the Irish suffered yet another lose to their line up when junior Ian Cole was forced to leave the game with a possible concussion. "We lost Cole, again with another high hit, that's concussion number seven this year." said coach Jackson. "Its been tough on us." "Frankly I'm getting really tired of the high hits and checks from behind." "Its really become an issue and someone needs to do something about it."

The Lakers and Irish will face off for the final game of their weekend series tomorrow at 7:05 at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Here Come the Irish

This weekends match up against visiting Notre Dame could provide the nations #18 Lake Superior State Lakers ice hockey team an opportunity to put some breathing room between themselves and the three CCHA teams that are within reach of their current fourth place standing in the conference.

With fifth place Alaska, along with Michigan and Notre Dame who are tied for sixth, all within the maximum weekend series point total of six the Lakers will have to be on their ‘A’ game to stay in the conferences top four and increase their chances for a first round bye in this years CCHA playoffs.

Hampered by injuries throughout the season the Irish have been unable to put together any substantial winning steaks with their longest being four that included two regulation wins and two overtime shoot out wins. That by no means makes them a push over. Notre Dame’s goal scoring defense (goals against) ranks fifth in the conference, two spots above the Lakers, and their 20.1 power play conversion percentage is tied for first. Add on the three overtime shootout wins, an area that has been a problem for the Lakers, and the keys to a good weekend for LSSU will be to score early and minimize their time in the penalty box.

A good weekend could be a must for LSSU as they will hit the road to face off against the number two in the nation, conference leading Miami of Ohio next weekend and then number eight in the nation, third in the conference Ferris State the following weekend.

The puck drops for the Lakers and Irish both Friday and Saturday nights at 7:05 p.m. at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie.

Monday, January 18, 2010

LSSU Breaks Into Nations Top Twenty

Coming off a pair of wins over the University of Nebraska-Omaha the Lake Superior State Lakers mens ice hockey team has broken into the nations top twenty for the first time this season. Placed at 18th in this weeks USCHO Division I national poll LSSU becomes the third Michigan team to make it into this weeks rankings.

Lake Superior State’s addition to the poll means that the top four teams in the CCHA’s are now ranked in the nations top twenty.

CCHA’s Ranked Teams

# 2 - Miami of Ohio
# 8 - Ferris State
#10 - Michigan State
#18 - Lake Superior State

Other CCHA teams that received votes in this week’s poll include Michigan, Notre Dame and Alaska.

Lake Superior still has to face both Miami and Ferris before the conclusion of their season but before that they will have to hold off Notre Dame this coming weekend at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Last Minute Break Gives Lakers Win Over UNO

University of Nebraska-Omaha's Jeric Agosta (left) and LSSU's Rick Schofield get ready for a second period faceoff during the Lakers and Mav's Friday night game.

K. Johnston/Eagle Feature & Image

Jan. 15, 2010 - LSSU was out shot 38 to 29 by the visiting University of Nebraska-Omaha (UNO) Mavericks Friday night but a score with less than two minutes left in the third period after a missed off side call put the game into the Lakers win column.

University of Nebraska-Omaha's Terry Broadhurst (top, center) and Jeric Agosto (bottom, center) watch as the puck goes into the LSSU net despite the eforts of the Lakers goalie Brian Mahoney-Wilson (left) and defenders Kyle Haines (top, right) and Will Acton (bottom right) during the Lakers and Mav's Friday night game.

Both the Mavericks and the Lakers came into this weekends series looking to improve their CCHA standings and UNO managed to get on the board first just short of the halfway point of the first period when senior Jeric Agosto score from inside a scrum at the front of the Lakers net. The Lakers Nick McParland scored the only second period goal just two seconds after the end of a LSSU power play evening the score at one headed into the third.

LSSU's Will Acton (left) and Zach Trotman (right) grab team mate Rick Schofield (center) after he score the game winning goal during the Lakers Friday night game against the visiting University of Nebraska-Omaha.

With less than two minutes remaining in regulation time LSSU’s Will Acton stole the puck in the defensive zone and headed up ice accompanied by line mates Zach Trotman and Rick Schofield. Schofield found himself the recipient of an almost perfect pass from Acton and beat Mavs goalie John Faulkner for the game winner. Fortunatley for the Lakers the on ice officials did not whistle the play dead when Acton entered the zone ahead of the puck making him off side. Had the call been made it would have negated Schofields score giving the Mavs the chance to either score themselves or send the game to overtime.

Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks head coach Dean Blais voices his displeasure after the end of the third period about a missed call that cost his team their Friday night game against the Lake Superior State Lakers.

UNO head coach Dean Blais was visibly upset about the missed call pleading his case on the ice with officials after the final buzzer. “From my spot he looked off side, and after watching the tape he was definitely offside” said Lakers head coach Jim Roque after the game. “I feel bad for them, they played real hard tonight.”

The win, along with a loss by Alaska Fairbanks puts the Lakers into a tie for fourth in the CCHA standings for the time being. The Mavericks will have a chance to split the series when the two teams face off again Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. in Sault Ste. Marie.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lakers Head Into Seasons Final Stretch Starting With Nebraska

K. Johnston - EAGLE FI

Jan. 14, 2010 - Heading into the seasons home stretch the Lake Superior State Lakers ice hockey team has already matched their 2008/09 CCHA win record and have surpassed last seasons overall win total. If the Lakers can maintain their winning ways they might be headed towards what could be a very successful season.

The balance of the conferences fifth place Lakers schedule is filled with league opponents including three of the four CCHA teams they are chasing, two of which are ranked in the nations top ten. Head coach Jim Roque’s squad starts its run towards the playoffs at home this weekend against the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks at Taffy Abel Arena in the Sault. The Lakers and Mavs split their previous meeting last November in Omaha.

The Mavs head to Sault Ste. Marie coming off a split series with CCHA rival Alaska and trying to get back to the form that had them ranked in the nations top twenty for a good part of the early season. Nebraska will have to step up their offensive efforts if they hope to topple the Lakers who are coming off a tough road loss and an overtime shootout win against the top ten ranked Michigan State Spartans last weekend.

With four teams nipping at their heels and just one point behind fourth place Alaska the 12-8-4 overall and 7-7-2 conference Lakers will be fighting for a top four spot in the league standings to earn a first round CCHA playoff bye. The battle starts against the Mavs this Friday and Saturday before facing Notre Dame on the 22nd and 23rd of the month.

2nd, 6th,and 7th in the Nation Battle for Top of CCHA Standings

K. Johnston - EAGLE FI

Jan. 14, 2010 - The number two in the nation Miami of Ohio ice hockey team will face off against the number six ranked Ferris State Bulldogs this weekend in a match-up of the top teams in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA). Ferris State and the visiting Redhawk’s are tied with 34 points each in the CCHA standings just one point ahead of number three Michigan State who is also ranked in the nations top ten.

The Redhawks come into Big Rapids after being knocked out of the national number one spot by the unranked Robert Morris last weekend and looking to avenge the two overtime shootout losses they suffered at the hands of the Bulldogs last November. Playing without one of their top five goal scorers after freshman Travis Ouellette was suspended for two games as the result of an incident during the Bulldogs recent series against Notre Dame, Ferris, averaging 3.5 goals per game this season, may have to wring out every ounce of home ice advantage if they plan on capturing the leagues top position.

Miami will depend in its league leading goaltending and defense to try to shut down the Bulldogs offense including its CCHA leading power play. With both teams averaging almost twenty minutes worth of penalties per game the power play and penalty kill could easily become the determining factor in this weekends competitions.

A split weekend between the two teams could open the door for the Michigan State Spartans to make a move for the top of the league standings. A Spartans sweep of CCHA rival Notre Dame this weekend along with a Ferris State – Miami split would put the Spartans in the leagues drivers seat two points up on both the Bulldogs and Redhawks.

With all of the remaining games on Ferris, Miami and MSU’s schedules being conference matchups capitalizing on this weekend’s contests could be key in determining who winds up on the top of the CCHA heap at the end of the season.

Other Michigan CCHA teams include Michigan, LSSU, Western, and Northern.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

2010 Michigan Dog Sled Racing Season Begins

K. Johnston - EAGLE FI

Jan. 12, 2010 - Watching the mass of barking, whining and jumping unruly dogs in the starting shoot it’s hard to imagine them ever working as any sort of team. It looks like chaos but when the starter yells “GO!” the dogs are instantly silent and focused. The only sound you hear is the sliding of well waxed sled skis and gentle thumps of dog paws digging into the packed snow surface of the trail.

Courtney Frank of Lodi, OH and her six dog team crest the courses first hill at the inaugural Lake Louise/Thumb Lake Sled Dog Race.

Plenty of snow and cold temperatures were perfect for the opening weekend of the Michigan sled dog racing season. This past weekends inaugural running of the Lake Louise/Thumb Lake sprint races in Boyne Falls (south of Petoskey) and the Tehquamenon distance races at the Upper Peninsula’s Rainbow Lodge north of Newberry were the first of twenty-five scheduled Michigan events including one of the lower 48’s longest running.

Next weekends 45th running of the Midwest International Dog Sled Race at the Kalkaska Winterfest will continue the events legacy of being the oldest, continuously run sled dog race in the state and second oldest in the lower 48. A sprint race, the event also includes a weight pulling competition and is the only race in the state that will include an unlimited/open class where musher’s can run any number and combination of dogs they wish.

The two main types of sled dog events are sprint and distance races. Sprint races are generally shorter in length, less than ten miles, and include several different classes that are defined by the number and breed of dogs in the team. The length of the sprint courses vary within the same event based on the number of dogs allowed in the team.

A 12 dog team competes in a 2006 Tehquamenon distance race FILE PHOTO - EAGLE FI

Distance races also have different classes determined by the number of dogs in the teams but race lengths can be a hundred miles or more and last for several days. The largest distance race in the Michigan is the U.P. 200 that runs a 240 mile course from Marquette to Grand Marais and back. Run in the latter half of February the 200 hundred draws world-class racers and teams that can use their participation in the race as an Iditarod qualifier.

Other races of note on the Michigan schedule include the fan popular Mackinaw Mush in Mackinaw City, the Atlanta 45th Parallel Sled Dog Race, the Jack Pine 30 in Gwinn the upper peninsula’s Kinross Classic. Midwest race schedules and links to individual race websites can be found online at

Monday, January 11, 2010

LSSU Lakers Spoil Spartans Bid For Top Spot in CCHA

After a Friday night win over the Lake Superior State Lakers at Lansing’s Munn Arena the nationally ranked Michigan State Spartans looked poised to capture first place in the CCHA hockey league. All the Spartans had to do to move past number one Miami of Ohio was beat the Lakers on Saturday.

After losing a hard fought game 4-2 on Friday the Lakers took to the ice Saturday looking to hold on to their own fifth place in the league standings. The Lakers went after MSU starting goal tender Drew Palmisano hard in the first period with sixteen shots on goal but were unable to score. State’s Dustin Gazley scored the periods only goal beating LSSU starting net minder Brian Mahoney-Wilson with less than a minute left before the first intermission.

In the second period it was Mahoney-Wilson who had to face the offensive push fighting off all twelve of MSU’s shots on goal. LSSU’s Steven Kaunisto beat the MSU defense to tally the only goal of the second tying the score at one.

LSSU Dan Barczuk started the scoring 2:36 into the third period giving the Lakers their first lead of the game. MSU’s Andrew Rowe evened the score at 9:23 with the games only power play score. Less than a minute later Lakers individual points leader Rick Schofield picked up his second point of the night scoring a shorthanded goal and putting the Lakers back on top 3-2. With less than three minutes left in the game National Player of the Month the Spartan’s Corey Tropp tied the score at three and sending the game to overtime.

After a scoreless five minute overtime period each of the CCHA rivals received one point in the conference standings and then went to a three player shootout to determine who would get the final of the nights three possible points. The point moved MSU to within one of league leading Miami of Ohio and left LSSU tied with Ohio State for fifth.

MSU’s Dean Chelios got past Mahoney-Wilson in the first round of shots but neither of the Spartans subsequent shooters could score. The first two LSSU shooters were unsuccessful in their attempts at MSU goalie Palmisano but Zac MacVoy made his shot leaving the tie breaking chances to a fourth round of shooters. After misses by both fourth round shooters LSSU’s Domenic Monardo put the extra point into the Lakers season total leaving them once again in sole possession of the CCHA’s fifth spot.

Even coming off a sweep of the team that was sweeping the number one team in the nation while the Lakers were narrowly losing one and then tying one against a top ten team LSSU seems even further away from a national top 20 spot receiving less votes in this weeks polls than in lasts. A pair of losses by Miami of Ohio to Robert-Morris and MSU’s win over Lake State moved the Spartan’s up to seventh in the USCHO national poll

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Lakers Hockey Sweeps Robert Morris, Win Streak to Six

K. Johnston/ Eagle FI

JAN 3, 2010 - The Lake Superior State Lakers got out their brooms and started the new year off with a two game sweep of Pennsylvania’s Robert Morris University. The pair of wins extends the teams current win streak to six and considering regulation ties they are unbeaten in their last eight games.

Playing the first game of the series on Satuday instead of the usual Friday the Lakers, behind junior goalie Brian Mahoney-Wilson, held off a third period flurry by the Robert Morris Colonials to win 7 to 6. Out shot 43 to 37 in the game the Lakers power play scored on three of their four opportunities while they managed to kill four of the five man advantage chances given to the Colonials.

EF&I FILE PHOTO - Lake Superior State University's Ben Power

Zach Trotman, Ben Power, Kyle Haines, Pat Aubry, Zac MacVoy, Simon Gysbers and Fred Cassiani all racked up scores against two of the three goalies the Colonials sent to defend the net. MacVoy also picked up his thirteenth assist of the season on Kyle Haines second period even strength goal.

EF&I FILE PHOTO - Lake Superior State University goaltender Pat Inglis

Senior Pat Inglis got the starting nod in net from Lakers coach Jim Roque for Sunday’s game two. Inglis held the Colonials scoreless for the full 60 minutes to tally his first shutout of the season. Matt Cowie and Rick Schofield scored the games only goals against Robert Morris goalie Brooks Ostergard. Cowie scored at even strength just past eleven minutes into the second assisted by Nick McParland and Chad Nehring. Schofield, assisted by Nehring and Zac MacVoy, scored late in the same period on one of the Lakers seven power play opportunities. The Lakers power play kill was flawless holding the Colonials scoreless on six attempts.

EF&I FILE PHOTO - Lake Superior State University's Chad Nehring

The Lakers head to Lansing next weekend to face off against the Michigan State Spartans. As of today the Spartans are the second highest nationally ranked Michigan team at 13th just two behind Ferris State who is ranked 11th.