SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — If you asked Lake Superior State Lakers’ coach Jim Roque how he expected the first game of their series with the Alaska Nanooks would go, it would have been similar to their contest Friday night.
The Lakers beat Alaska, 4-3, at the Taffy Abel Arena in Sault, Michigan on Friday night in a tight game that saw the two teams battle down to the wire.
“It was kind of a funny game,” Roque said. “For these two teams I thought it would be 2-1 hockey but there were a lot of good chances for both teams. There was a lot of loose play out there. We could have scored some more goals and they could have too. It could have been a 6-5 game out there tonight.”
The win broke a three-game home-ice losing skid for the Lakers and was their second straight overall after a win last Saturday at Nebraska-Omaha.
Nanooks’ coach Dallas Ferguson was pleased with how his club battled back from a 2-0 deficit after one period.
“I thought our guys responded well,” said Ferguson. “We came out and got it back to even with a couple of power-play goals; the good thing is we battled back and gave ourselves an opportunity (to win).”
Rick Schofield paced the Lakers with a pair of goals while Brad Cooper and Simon Gysbers also scored for the Lakers in the win. Nik Yaremchuk scored twice for Alaska while Andy Taranto had a goal and an assist in the loss. Joe Sova and Jarret Granberg set up a pair of goals each for Alaska. Taranto’s goal came as a second period five-on-three was expiring.
Lakers’ goaltender Brian Mahoney-Wilson stopped 26 shots in the win, 21 of which came in the final two periods.
“He had a couple of good breaks in the first period, one just dribbled by and another puck hit the crossbar,” Roque said of his goaltender. “That could have been a big part of the game. He battles hard. The thing about Brian is he’s very seldom on his back. He’s up and aggressive.
“He’s playing good. I don’t know if he’s played great yet. I’m sure (Alaska goaltender Scott Greenham) feels he could play better too.”
Greenham stopped 20 shots in the loss, including nine in the first period when Lake State outshot the Nanooks 11-5. Ferguson said following the loss that the lack of a big save was important in the loss.
“I’d like to get that big save when it counts, but we didn’t get that tonight,” Ferguson said.
Alaska finished the night two-for-five on the power play while Lake Superior State scored once in five man advantage situations.
With the win, the Lakers have now won two straight after a six-game winless skid that extended from a 4-3 loss on Oct. 24 against Ohio State to last Friday night’s 4-0 loss at the hands of Nebraska-Omaha.
Following a seven-game undefeated streak in October, Alaska has struggled to find consistency in November. After starting the month with a split against Notre Dame and then slitting with Bowling Green last weekend, the Nanooks hope to salvage another split this weekend against LSSU.
The two teams are back in action at Taffy Abel Arena on Saturday night to complete their two-game series at 7:05 p.m.