SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — Lake Superior State broke a three-game losing streak Saturday night, defeating Northern Michigan 2-1 at the Taffy Abel Arena.
Both the Lakers and the Wildcats were able to get a win out of the home-and-home series. NMU grabbed the win Friday night in Marquette, Mich.
“Last night we played really well, but we just ran out of time,” Lakers coach Scott Borek said. “I think that we fell behind after a pretty good start and we had to work through some things.
“Our guys stayed with it and I thought they made some good plays to get the two points.”
The Lakers bounced back after the Wildcats took an early one-goal lead in the first period when Terry Harrison scored an even-strength goal on a pass from Ryan Riipi.
Sophomore Aaron Phillips tipped in a power-play goal on a shot from senior Ryan Vince to tie the game for the Lakers. Phillips’ goal was his fourth of the season.
Vince figured into every Laker goal this weekend, earning five points during the series. Vince is now third on the team in scoring. He has tallied nine points this season.
Both teams went scoreless in the second, but the Lakers got a power-play goal from Chris McNamara with less than four minutes remaining in the game.
McNamara’s goal gave the Lakers the lead they were looking for, but Northern Michigan made it tough to hold on to. The Wildcats came up with some big chances in the final 1:30 of the game, but the Lakers clinched the win.
“We played with so much more composure on Friday night, coming from behind, than we did tonight,” said Borek.
“That last minute and a half might have been the hardest minute and a half of the season. It has been a tough last couple of weekends and I think we’ve gotten the feeling that things are going to go against us. We lost some of our composure, but we played hard during it and that’s why we got the win.”
The story for Northern Michigan was the solid play of freshman goaltender Craig Kowalski in both games.
“Last night (Friday) Kowalski was the deciding factor in the game,” said Borek.
“Tonight he played exceptional. His puck-handling really dictated the pace of the hockey game. He was very frustrating to us on the power-play, but he was phenomenal and I thought he played very well.”
Kowalski made a total of 67 saves between the two games and came up with some big stops at very opportune times for the Lakers. Lake State improved its record to 6-7-0 and 3-5-0 in the CCHA.
The Lakers will head to East Lansing, Mich., this Tuesday for a battle with Michigan State.
Northern Michigan is 6-4-3 and 4-4-2 in the CCHA. The Wildcats will play Notre Dame in a two-game road series next weekend.
Lake State and Northern Michigan are tied in their quest for the Cappo Cup, which is awarded to the team the scores the most goals in regular-season meetings between the two teams. Each team has recorded five goals in the series.
The Lakers and the Wildcats will meet again on Friday, March 22 in Sault Ste. Marie, for the first game of another home-and-home series.