SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — Hard work finally paid off for Lake Superior on Saturday, and for the first time this season, the Lakers won a game decided by fewer than four goals, squeaking out a 5-4 victory over CCHA rival Ferris State.
Up 5-3 with 9:03 left in the third period, Lake Superior head coach Frank Anzalone called a timeout to calm his team down.
“I just told the guys, ‘Let’s just get through the next three or four minutes without giving up a goal or a bad penalty,’” said Anzalone. “Let’s go to a 1-2-2 forecheck, let’s make sure that we hit hard … and control their line rush.”
It was a different story than the night before, where the Lakers were fortunate to come away with a 2-2 tie.
“Last night, none of us were pleased at all,” said Anzalone. “We just weren’t ready to play. We looked at the video, and said ‘This is not where we should be at.’
“We came out more determined tonight.”
Well, not right away. The Bulldogs got on the board first when Laker defenseman Mark Adamek misplayed the puck in front of the net and Bulldog center Tim Vokey slid the puck past Laker goaltender Jeff Jakaitis to light the lamp.
The Lakers could not respond in the penalty-free first period, though forward Steve McJannet beat freshman goaltender Derek MacIntyre, but the puck slid through the crease behind the keeper.
The second period is where the breaks finally started to fall for Lake Superior. At 1:09 into the stanza, the Lakers created a turnover deep in the Bulldogs’ zone, and three Lakers were within five feet of the net with the puck, and freshman Dan Eves put the puck past the keeper for his first collegiate goal.
Less than three minutes later, the Lakers capitalized on the power play for just the third time in their last 29 opportunities when Derek R. Smith put a rebound past MacIntyre for his first goal of the season.
The Lakers’ power-play success continued five minutes later, when defenseman Kory Scoran slapped a one-timer from the blue line past MacIntyre to make the score 3-1.
Ferris answered 42 seconds later when Jeff Legue wristed a wicked shot from the right circle just under the glove of Jakaitis to lessen the lead to 3-2.
“I don’t think we played very well early,” said Ferris State skipper Bob Daniels. “The Lakers certainly came to play early. With the chances they got, they capitalized on them.”
The Bulldogs missed an opportunity during a power play toward the end of the second period, where they took eight shots, including four in about 10 seconds, at Jakaitis, who made some amazing kick and stick saves to keep the Bulldogs out of the net.
“He stopped some shots he shouldn’t have,” said Anzalone. “It was a one-man show.”
The Bulldogs pulled themselves within one for the second time in the game off a Jeff Legue power-play goal just five seconds into a Mark Adamek penalty. It was Legue’s sixth goal in as many games, and his sixth straight game with a point.
The Lakers appeared to put away the game 4:46 into the third period when Colin Nicholson dented the twine after a Steve McJannet wraparound hit the post for his first goal of the year to make it 5-3.
The Bulldogs made a last-minute crack at making a comeback, and were nearly successful. After they pulled their goalie, freshman forward Matt Stefanishion was cherry-picking near the Lakers’ blue line. He took a dead-on pass, and walked right in, and into Jakaitis.
With 16 seconds left in the match, Carter Thompson lifted the puck over a sprawling Jakaitis to once again pull the Bulldogs within one goal, but Ferris was unable to keep the pressure on to tie the game.
“The guys really came tonight and played hard,” said Anzalone. “We just found a way to win the game, even though Ferris still played pretty well.”
Lake Superior (3-6-1 overall, 3-4-1 CCHA) hosts Northern Michigan on Friday night and travels to Marquette on Saturday to complete the home-and-home series. Ferris State (4-9-1 overall, 1-6-1 CCHA) takes Thanksgiving break off and travels to Kalamazoo on December 3 in the first game of a home-and-home against Western Michigan.
• A scary moment for the Bulldogs happened 14 minutes into the first, when center Greg Rallo took a slapshot to the helmet. He was slow to get up, and went straight into the locker room. He returned in the second period.
• Derek MacIntyre was pulled halfway through the second period in favor of senior Mike Brown. “He just wasn’t as sharp as he usually is,” said Daniels. MacIntyre was playing his first game back in Sault Ste. Marie after playing for the Soo Kewadin Casino Indians last year.
• Laker defenseman Barnabas Birkeland was out for the second straight game with a broken arm suffered in last week’s 2-0 loss to Alaska-Fairbanks. He may be ready for the Northern series.
• Daniels is still searching for his 200th career win. Currently, he is 199-237-36 in his 13 years with Ferris State.