LSSU Lakers Hit the Road to Meet the Spartans in East Lansing

Lake Superior State’s hockey team continues its road swing this weekend, when they pay a visit to Munn Ice Arena, home of the Michigan State Spartans. The Lakers and Spartans, once conference foes in the now-defunct Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA), will meet in non-conference play for the third straight season. In their series last season, the Lakers defeated Michigan State by scores of 6-1 and 7-3 in Sault Ste. Marie during Great Lake State Weekend. The games are on Friday, October 27th and Saturday, October 28th. Both start at 7:00 p.m.

Last Week
Lake Superior (1-3-2, 0-1-1-0 WCHA) travelled to Denver, taking on the defending national champion Pioneers. On Friday night, Lakers goaltender Nick Kossoff faced a seemingly-unending barrage of shots from the Pioneers, who had hung their National Champions banner before the game. Kossoff’s 63 saves broke the school record set by Matt Violin (60 saves) in 2003. Lake Superior forwards Brayden Gelsinger and Max Humitz gave the Lakers a 2-0 lead early in the second period. Denver fought back to tie the game with about 8 minutes left in regulation, but Jake Hand of the Lakers un-tied the game with 5:34 to go. Another Denver goal exactly 2 minutes later sent the game to overtime, where the score remained unchanged. Although the Pioneers scored a goal in an exhibiton 3-on-3 overtime, the game goes down in the books as a 3-3 tie.

On Saturday, Mareks Mitens got the start in net for Lake Superior, who scored first with a redirection by Josh Nenadal. Denver continued peppering Laker goaltending with shots, but Mitens, who tallied 49 saves on the night, kept the Lakers in the game. A power play goal late in the second period gave the Pioneers the lead, which they built upon in the third period with three goals en route to a 5-1 win over Lake Superior.

Michigan State (2-2-0, 0-0-0 Big Ten) played a home-and-home set against Western Michigan, another former CCHA rival. The Spartans won the Friday night affair 6-4 at home, with Mitchell Lewandowski scoring the game winning goal with only 1:26 left in regulation. Michigan State then suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Broncos in Kalamazoo. Patrick Khodorenko of the Spartans tied the game early in the third, only to see the Broncos retake the lead two minutes later. Goaltender John Lethemon, whom the Lakers saw last year, started both games and posted a .885 save percentage.

About the Lakers
Through six games, the Lakers are 1-3-2 overall, and 0-1-1 in conference play. Lake Superior split a home and home series with Northern Michigan to start the year, before hosting Michigan Tech, the WCHA’s lone representative in the NCAA tournament last year. The Huskies defeated the Lakers 4-3 on Friday before a 2-2 tie on Saturday, before their series with Denver last weekend.

Leading the Lakers in scoring is senior forward J.T. Henke. Henke, a native of Trenton, Michigan, has 2 goals and 6 assists for 8 points on the season. Five of those points came against Michigan Tech, which the WCHA recognized by naming him Offensive Player of the Week.

Junior forwards Anthony Nellis (3-1—4), Diego Cuglietta (2-2—4) and Jake Hand (2-1—3) have continued producing for what was one of the highest scoring classes in the nation last season. Continuing his impressive rookie campaign is Max Humitz (3-2—5) who was named to the WCHA All-Rookie Team following last season.

On defense, three newcomers have played in all six games so far, as William Riedell, Lukas Kaelble and Tyler Anderson have worked on adapting to the college game. They join seniors Kyle Chatham, Aiden Wright and Ryan Renz, junior Matt McArdle and sophomore Collin Saccoman on the blueline.

In goal, junior Nick Kossoff holds a .919 save percentage and a 3.21 goals against average in four games. For his record-setting efforst against Denver, Kossoff was named WCHA Goaltender of the Week. Freshman Mareks Mitens, in two starts season, has a 3.36 GAA and a .927 SV%.

About the Spartans
For the third time this season, Lake Superior will face a team with a new bench boss, as Michigan State hired Danton Cole to replace Tom Anastos. Anastos resigned following last season, in which the Spartans posted a 7-24-4 record (the lowest win total for the program since 1977-78) and a 3-14-3 record in conference play. Cole comes to Michigan State via the USA Hockey National Team Development Program in Plymouth, Michigan, where he coached from 2010 to 2017. Prior to that, Cole was the head coach of a current conference foe of the Lakers in Alabama-Huntsville.

Through four games, the Spartans are led by Khodorenko (3-3—6), Taro Hirose (2-4—6) and Lewandowski (1-5—6). Carson Gatt (0-3—3) leads the blue line in scoring.

In net, sophomore Lethemon has played the majority of the minutes, and currently has a 2.36 GAA and a .917 SV%. Ed Minney, a junior, has only played in one game this year, allowing 3 goals in 10 minutes of play.

Among the losses to graduation for Michigan State are forwards Thomas Ebbing (3-13—16), William Haag (7-8—15) and Joe Cox (6-8—14). Also departed is 2016-17 leading scorer Mason Appleton. Appleton, a 2015 draft pick by the Winnipeg Jets, is playing in the Jets’ minor league system.

On the back end, seniors Dylan Pavelek and Gatt, sophomore Anthony Scarsella and junior Zach Osburn return. Rhett Holland (3-5—8) was the only graduation loss on the blueline for the Spartans.

There’s No Place Like Home
Lake Superior returns home to face WCHA opponent Alaska-Anchorage on November 3rd and 4th. Puck drop for both Friday and Saturday is 7:07 p.m. 

Following that weekend, the Lakers will continue conference play by travelling to Bowling Green and Alabama-Huntsville. The next home game for Lake Superior will be an exhibition game against the US NDTP Under 18 team on Saturday, November 25th at 7:07 p.m.

Source: LSSU Athletics

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