LSSU's Domenic Monardo pushes the puck towards the net around NMU's Kory Kaunisto Saturday.
Line up all of the penalty sections of Lake Superior State University Laker (LSSU) ice hockey box scores from any given season and it is obvious which weekends the Northern Michigan University Wildcats (NMU) were in town. This weekends Upper Peninsula match-up was no different and certainly not a disappointment to fans that filled Sault Ste. Marie’s Taffy Abel Arena to watch as the CCHA opponents split the two game set.
Despite providing the Lakers with a 5 to 1 power play advantage and being out shot 43 to 29 the Wildcats managed to win the series opening game. “We’re taking penalties. we’ve been very bad at that all year” said NMU head coach Walt Kyle of the power play advantage his team gave the Lakers this weekend. He was pleased with the Wildcats penalty killing efforts though, “I thought we took a step for sure, we’re growing, we’re getting better and that’s all we can do right now.”
|NMU's Tyler Gron|
Wildcat junior Andrew Cherniwchan started the game one scoring beating Lakers goalie Brian Mahoney-Wilson just past the four minute mark of the first period with NMU individual points leader junior Tyler Gron picking up the Wildcats second goal eight minutes later. NMU reminder Reid Ellingson made 42 saves on the night giving up just one score to LSSU’s Domenic Monardo who took advantage of one of the Lakers four second period power play opportunities to score the Lakers only goal of the night while NMU‘s Jarrod Brown picked up their third score in the games final period with Greger Hanson tacking on a last minute empty netter to round out the night and give the Wildcats the 4 to 1 victory.
“I don’t know if our guys just thought it was going to be easy, I don’t know what they were thinking.” LSSU head coach Jim Roque said of Friday nights game. “Obviously I didn’t do a good enough job to convince them that Northern was going to show up last night (Friday) to play.”
Both coaches opted to start freshman goaltenders for Saturday nights game and LSSU’s Kevin Kapalka (2-1-1) won the penalty filled battle of the first year goalies as the Lakers came back from the Friday night loss to defeat the visiting Wildcats 3 to 1.
|LSSU's Kevin Kapalka|
Coming off an outstanding weekend against Ohio State NMU net minder Jared Coreau fended off 16 power play shots and 14 even strength shots giving up three scores while Kapalka stopped 21 shots forking over only one power play goal to the Wildcats Justin Florek.
|LSSU's Kyle Jean|
With all of the nights scoring coming in the second period LSSU freshman Kyle Jean picked up his first goal as a Laker scoring shorthanded at the 5:26 mark followed up by LSSU team captain Rick Schofield’s fourth goal of the year. Schofield’s goal started a two minute flurry that included the NMU goal by Florek and the games final score by LSSU’s Domenic Monardo, his fifth of the season.
|LSSU's Zach Trotman (center) goes up over NMU's Erik|
Higby to knock the puck away from the front of Laker
goaltender Kevin Kapalka (left)
After giving senior Brain Mahoney-Wilson the Friday night starts in goal and the Saturday night starts to freshman Kevin Kapalka over the last four weeks coach Roque is ready for a change next weekend. “Is he (Kapalka) going to play next Friday, yeah.” “He’s earned that right, he deserves an opportunity.” said Roque. “Right now I gotta play the guys that give me the best chance to win so I have to give him that chance to come back next Friday to see if he can handle it.”
Both teams will have home ice advantage next weekend against CCHA opponents as the Lakers (3-5-2) face Ferris State and the Wildcats (3-5-1) take on Bowling Green.