MARQUETTE, Mich. — After shutting out the Northern Michigan Wildcats on Friday, the Lake Superior State Lakers traveled to Marquette on Saturday entertaining thoughts of a sweep. Indeed, the Wildcats couldn’t shut down the potent LSSU offense and the Lakers took home the victory, 5-2.
After establishing a 3-0 lead, the Lakers (10-5-1 overall, 5-4-1 CCHA) found themselves on the wrong side of a momentum swing as two NMU (7-8-2, 4-5-1) goals within seven minutes trimmed the lead to one midway through the final period.
Thirteen seconds later, though, in front of a Northern crowd that was finally coming to life, Laker senior Derek R. Smith took a pass from fellow senior Jeff Rainville and pushed his team to victory with his second goal of the year.
“I felt that was the key to the game,” LSSU head coach Jim Roque said. “It is 3-2, it’s a game again and they have all the momentum. Those two seniors went out there and made a play and we have got to have that.”
The game started slowly enough as both teams battled to get shots on net against physical defenses. Then, at the 13:09 mark, Laker Troy Schwab skated the puck around to goalie Bill Zaniboni’s glove side and fired it toward the crease, where it was redirected into the net by Trent Campbell. The goal was Campbell’s sixth on the year and gave the Lakers a 1-0 lead that would remain untouched for over a period.
Despite the fact that they outshot the Lakers, 18-5, the second period was one of wasted opportunities for the Wildcats. Early on, LSSU forward Dan Eves was dealt a game misconduct as he checked NMU defenseman Derek May from behind. The major, coupled with a separate spot checking call on Eves, set the Wildcats up for what was to be a seven-minute power-play.
Mike Santorelli missed a wide-open net on freshman netminder Pat Inglis’ stick-side and Pat Bateman hit the post before the Wildcats served time for back-to-back penalties. Both calls were for too many men on the ice. Seemingly before it started, the Wildcats’ longest power play of the season was over.
“We had a seven-minute power play, then we take some stupid penalties and there goes the power play,” Santorelli said. “We need to capitalize on those opportunities and if we can’t do that, it will be hard to win.”
NMU head coach Walt Kyle noted the fact that his team did not seem well-tuned on Saturday night.
“We had a number of big-time opportunities, but we were not sharp all weekend, we had no puck luck and we missed three or four open nets tonight,” he said. “They were literally open nets.”
The Lakers, who were outshot 39-21 for the game, entered the third period clinging to a 1-0 lead. They quickly went to work and got on the board again. And then again. Within the first four minutes of the frame, the Lakers had posted a pair of power-play goals and led the scoreless Wildcats by three.
“Our power play has been good in the last few games,” Roque said. “But the timing of things is huge and those two power-play goals couldn’t have come at a better time.”
NMU goals by Darin Olver and Matt Maunu cut the lead to one, but the comeback effort ultimately fell short and the Lakers nabbed an open-net goal to close out the scoring.
After picking up their first victory in Marquette since February of 2004, LSSU will only focus briefly on the sweep over the in-state rival Wildcats.
“Give LSSU a lot of credit,” Kyle said. “They worked hard and earned both of the wins that they got this weekend.”
The Lakers will face the Ferris State Bulldogs (4-10-1, 2-8-1) on the road next weekend. The Wildcats will, in turn, ready themselves for a visit from the Michigan State Spartans (7-7-1, 5-5-1).