SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — Lake Superior State’s six seniors, who predicted that they will be defined by their performance in this year’s CCHA playoffs, took a much-deserved victory lap around Taffy Abel Arena after the Lakers beat Ferris State 3-2 Sunday in the final game of their best-of-three series.
The Lakers (19-17-3) won a CCHA playoff series for the first time since the 1995-96 season. They also equalled the program’s most wins since the 1996-97 season.
LSSU will travel to Miami for the second round, which begins Friday.
LSSU and Ferris State (14-22-3) spent the entire playoff series battling through two periods only to wind up tied in the third. For the second straight night, the Lakers prevailed down the stretch. Freshman Nik Sellers tallied the game-winner during a free-for-all in front of the Bulldogs’ net at 17:51 of the third period. Derek R. Smith and Dan Eves drew assists.
Simon Gysbers and Derek A. Smith both scored first-period power-play goals on blasts from the point to give the Lakers a 2-0 lead. Ryan Baird and Jeff Rainville assisted on Gysbers’ goal, and Nathan Perkovich and Josh Sim helped set up Smith’s shot.
Ferris State came back to tie it, 2-2, on even-strength goals by Mark Bomersback and Aaron Lewicki in the second period. The Bulldogs outshot LSSU 16-2 in the middle stanza and 33-16 for the game.
LSSU goaltender Jeff Jakaitis totaled 31 saves, including 10 in the third period. He helped seal FSU’s fate midway through the final period by making a tough save during a Bulldog 3-on-2 break-away just after LSSU failed to convert on a power play.
FSU goaltender Mitch O’Keefe totaled 13 saves.
LSSU was 2-for-5 on the power play, while Ferris State finished 0-for-4. Laker special teams had one of their best weekends of the season, going 4-for-15 with the man-advantage and limiting the Bulldogs’ power play to 1-for-9.