ORONO, Maine — It wasn’t easy, but Frank Anzalone has finally achieved his 200th collegiate win as a coach, a 2-1 decision over the Quinnipiac Bobcats in the first game of the Black Bear Classic tournament at Alfond Arena.
After building Lake Superior State into a powerhouse program in the 1980s, Anzalone left to join the pro ranks. After ten seasons, Anzalone returned last year to rebuild the once-proud program that has fallen on hard times.
“There was a time, when, God rest his soul, Shawn Walsh and I were neck and neck for top program-type coaches,” Anzalone said after the game. “Then I left and my career got discombobulated and all of that stuff. To me, I’m at Lake Superior State because it’s a good place for me and my family to be. I’m try to help build the program. It’s a milestone and I’m proud of it, but I want to make this program a winner.”
His team took a step in the right direction, putting together a good performance against Quinnipiac, which Anzalone admitted wasn’t easy.
“Teams from [the MAAC] used to be easy wins. But their coach [Rand Pecknold] has been there for seven years, and they were in the NCAA tournament last year. They know how to play.”
The Lakers outshot the Bobcats 33-22 in the game, and Quinnipiac’s sophomore goalie Jamie Holden kept them in it at times. He made 31 saves, a few of them spectacular. That included a bunch in the first period, including two in a row on David Kellington and Bo Cheeseman. Later in the period, Holden stoned Cheeseman on a shorthanded breakaway, and then topped it off with two minutes left in the frame by gloving a sizzling one-timer from Mike Adamek.
The only time the Lakers beat Holden in the first was on the power play. After Jeremy Bachusz won an offensive-zone faceoff to Mike Adamek, Adamek slid the puck across the blue line to Aaron Davis standing at the left point. He fired a quick backhander along the ice that went through a mass of humanity in front of Holden, who never saw the shot, and found the back of the net at 5:40 to give the Lakers the 1-0 advantage.
The Bobcats came back to tie on a power play of their own in the second period, but got a lot of help from LSSU in the process.
Sophomore Chris White had the puck along the right-wing boards in the zone when he centered it, looking for a teammate’s stick for a one-timer. He hit Bachusz’s stick instead, but got the desired result as it deflected past Terry Denike at 11:18 to tie the score.
Bachusz was able to atone for the mistake later in the period by setting up the winner. On another power play, Bachusz got the puck from rookie Colin Nicholson in the left slot, then fired a quick pass to freshman Adrian Kremblewski, who one-timed it for his first collegiate goal at 18:12.
LSSU had to hold off a late charge from Quinnipiac, which pulled Holden with 1:30 to go in the game. The Bobcats got plenty of good chances and nearly scored with one second left on the clock. Quinnipiac had three or four whacks at a loose puck in the crease before Denike was finally able to cover it.
Anzalone said that his goal for the game was met.
“We wanted to see if we could come in here and beat Quinnipiac. We’re in infancy stages. We’ve got a lot of freshmen and we can get rattled. It’s a big win for us, and now it’s an opportunity for us to play Maine, and grow and get better.”
Lake Superior is 1-0-0 and will play host Maine in the championship game Saturday at 7 p.m.. while Quinnipiac will take on New Brunswick in the consolation at 4.