After clinching the seventh seed in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association last Saturday with a shootout victory over Ferris State, Lake Superior State remains in the Upper Peninsula this weekend, taking on Michigan Tech in the WCHA Quarterfinals on March 3rd and 4th. The trip to the 2017 WCHA Playoffs marks the third-straight under third-year head coach Damon Whitten after traveling to Minnesota State in each of the past two postseasons.
The puck drops on the best-of-three playoff series Friday evening at 7:07 p.m inside MacInnes Student Ice Arena. Both Saturday and Sunday, if necessary, are also slated for 7:07 p.m starts and live broadcasts of the entire weekend series will be available live on 99.5 YES FM. A live video stream of the games is also available for purchase via WCHA.tv.
Fans interested in purchasing tickets to the games in Houghton can contact the Central Ticket Office in the Student Development Complex at MTU, order online at BuyHuskiesTickets.com, or reserve tickets over the phone by calling (906) 487-2073. Tickets are $18 for reserved adult seats and $10 for reserved youth seats.
How They Got Here
The two points garnered from Saturday’s shootout victory, lifted the Lakers (11-16-7, 8-13-7 WCHA) one point ahead of Northern Michigan in the WCHA standings. With a 5-3 victory over the Huskies (18-13-7, 15-7-6 WCHA) on Saturday, NMU momentarily held the seventh seed with a tiebreaker in hand over the Lakers. In picking up the extra point via a win in the shootout against FSU, the Lakers earned the chance to stay in the U.P. this weekend while the Wildcats travel to Bemidji State this weekend to face the MacNaughton Cup Champions.
The Series vs. Michigan Tech
Overall: MTU leads, 40-21-5… In Houghton: MTU leads, 27-10-2… In SSM: MTU leads, 12-10-3
Last meeting: Nov. 11-12, 2016, MTU won 6-1 Friday and 4-2 Saturday
Streak: MTU leads, 5-0-0 Last 5: MTU leads, 5-0-0 Last 10: MTU leads, 8-1-1
The Lakers and Huskies previously met for a two-game series earlier this season in Houghton during the weekend of Nov. 11-12. Tech claimed a home sweep with victories of 6-1 of Friday and a 4-2 decision in Saturday’s series finale. This weekend’s series marks the 67th and 68th meetings all-time, and if necessary, the 69th meeting between the schools.
Junior defenseman Kyle Chatham scored the lone goal for the Lakers in the 6-1 loss on Friday and sophomores Gage Torrel and Diego Cuglietta each scored goals in Saturday’s contest. Leading the way for the Huskies, Jake Jackson and Gavin Gould scored two goals Friday and Joel L’Esperance registered a pair of goals on Saturday.
The series between the U.P. rivals dates back to the 1969-70 season. All-time, the Huskies hold a 40-21-5 advantage and a 27-10-2 record over the Lakers in games played in Houghton. Since the 2013-14 season when the Lakers joined the Huskies in the WCHA, MTU holds a 9-2-1 advantage in the rivalry.
Scouting the Huskies
Huskies head coach Mel Pearson, in his sixth season at the reigns, picked up his 100th career coaching victory when the teams met on Nov. 11. A two-time WCHA Coach of the Year, Pearson again has his Huskies poised to make a deep run in the WCHA Playoffs.
Leading the way, junior defenseman Matt Roy has five goals and a team-high 20 points in 35 games this season. Behind Roy, Jake Lucchini, L’Esperance, Reid Sturos and Shane Hanna are tied for second on the team with 19 points. Freshman defender Mitch Reinke ranks sixth on the team in scoring with five goals and 18 points in 34 games.
Freshman goaltender Angus Redmond took control of the of the starting goaltender duties early in the season for Tech. In his rookie campaign, Redmond has posted a .916 save percentage and ranks fourth nationally with a 1.87 goals-against average. With a 17-8-5 record on the year, Redmond ranks 15th nationally in goaltender wins and is fifth among freshman netminders.
Last Time Out Against the Bulldogs (Fri.: 6-4, L | Sat.: 1-1, TOT/ SOW )
Following a series-opening loss to Ferris State last weekend, in which Torrel scored two goals and added an assist, the Lakers rallied for a 1-1 tie with the Bulldogs on Saturday and captured the extra league point with a win in the shootout.
Sophomore forward Mitch Hults scored the Lakers’ lone goal on Saturday, assisted by Cuglietta for his third point of the weekend after notching a goal and an assist on Friday. In net, junior goaltender Gordon Defiel dazzled the Taffy Abel crowd for the final time as a Laker with a brilliant performance in net. The Stillwater, Minn., native registered 43 saves and capped off the shootout victory with a save on FSU senior forward Gerald Mayhew.
- With the goal for the Lakers in Saturday’s contest, Hults tied junior forward J.T. Henke for the team lead of 30 points this season.
- Hults and Henke are also tied with Minnesota State’s C. J. Franklin and Bowling Green’s Mitchell McLain for third in overall scoring among WCHA players.
- Both Hults and Henke have identical marks of 10 goals and lead the team with 20 assists this season.
- With two goals and an assist on Friday, Torrel moved into a tie with freshman Max Humitz for a team-leading 13 goals.
- Torrel and Humitz now rank tied for sixth in total goals among WCHA players.
- Humitz ranks second behind Mavericks forward Marc Michaelis in total goals by a WCHA rookie.
- Humitz ranks fifth in overall freshman scoring, while fellow freshman Luke Morgan ranks fourth with 6-15–21. Both players are among just five WCHA freshmen to reach the 20-point plateau this season.
- Rounding out the Lakers top scorers behind Henke and Hults, Cuglietta (12-12–24) ranks third on the team in scoring, sophomore Anthony Nellis ranks fourth with 9-13–22.
- Torrel (13-8–21) and Morgan (6-15–21) are tied for fifth on the team.
- Leading the way on the back end, freshman Collin Saccoman leads the team in defenseman scoring with 3-13–16. Among rookie defenders, Saccoman ranks sixth overall in the WCHA.
- Saccoman continues to lead the WCHA and rank second nationally in blocked shots with 86 on the season.
- Offensively, the Lakers rank second in the WCHA and 28th nationally with 2.91 goals per game.
- On special teams, the Lakers rank sixth among WCHA teams with a power play that is scoring 13.9 percent of the time and rank third in the conference with an 85.6 percent penalty killing mark.
Source: LSSU Athletics