SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — A series sweep just wasn’t in the cards for the Lake Superior State Lakers.
Just 24 hours after upsetting the Alaska Nanooks, the Lakers dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to the Nanooks on Saturday night at the Taffy Abel Arena. The Nanooks overcame a 2-0 Lakers lead with a pair of third-period goals, setting the stage for a dramatic finish.
Junior defenseman Bryant Molle scored his first collegiate goal in the final minute of overtime to give the Nanooks the victory. Senior center Dion Knelson scored two goals just over six minutes apart in the third period to get Alaska back on even terms.
“We just stuck to the game plan and fortunately for us, we got two really nice goals to give us a chance in overtime,” said Nanooks’ coach Dallas Ferguson. “Knelson stole the show there with a couple of plays and finished on them. In overtime, it was quite an intuition. A three-on-two and I didn’t even see our defenseman jump up. Bryant made a great play and probably won’t ever forget his first college hockey goal.”
The game marked the second time the Lakers had blown a 2-0 lead in the weekend set. On Friday night, the Lakers opened the same lead before Alaska battled back, only to drop a 4-3 decision.
“I thought we played hard but we just didn’t put them away in the first two periods,” said Lakers’ coach Jim Roque. “We had some good chances. Even in the third period, we had a power play. We’ve got to find a way to win that game. We kind of left them hanging around. They got two big goals from their senior (Knelson) that’s one of their leaders and good players to tie the game. Then it’s anybody’s game after that.”
Ben Power opened the scoring in the first period for the Lakers with his first goal of the season while Chad Nehring scored midway through the period to give the Lakers their two-goal advantage.
“In the first two periods, we played well enough to put them away but we didn’t,” said Roque. “They had a great third period and threw everything at us. We tried to get a little too cute at times.”
Both goaltenders were busy, as Lakers’ goaltender Brian Mahoney-Wilson stopped 30 shots in the loss while Scott Greenham stopped 32 shots for the Nanooks.
Ferguson was pleased with the play of Greenham on Saturday.
“After the second goal, Scott settled down,” said Ferguson. “He managed the puck well. A lot of shots were coming from the outside and sometimes when those pucks come from the outside like that and a goaltender’s not really in his groove, it can set him in that groove so that he’s seeing the puck and managing the puck.”
After scoring a pair of goals on Friday night, Nik Yaremchuk set up a pair of goals on Saturday night in the Nanooks’ win. Andy Taranto also set up a pair of goals.
The loss drops the Lakers’ conference record to 3-6-1 with an overall record of 6-7-1. The Nanooks improve to 5-3-0 in CCHA action and 8-3-1 overall.
Both teams are back in action next weekend. The Lakers hit the road to take part in the RPI Holiday Tournament, where they will face Union on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. Depending on the result of that game, the Lakers will face either Bentley or RPI on Saturday.
After two weekends on the road, the Nanooks return home next weekend for a set with Northern Michigan on Friday and Saturday.