SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — The Lake Superior State Lakers caught a break and took advantage of it.
Rick Schofield scored with just 90 seconds remaining in the third period to give the Lakers a narrow 2-1 victory over the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks. Schofields shot from the right side of the slot found its way past Nebraska goaltender John Faulkner. The goal came on a play that Lakers coach Jim Roque deemed offside following the win.
I feel bad for Nebraska, said Roque. The goal was offside. I really think it was offside. No doubt in my mind I thought it was. They missed one and it worked in our favor.
Despite being visibly upset with the officials following the final buzzer, Mavericks coach Dean Blais was impressed with the flow of the game.
It was a great game for the fans, said Blais. It was a good up-and-down game, no nonsense after the whistle. It was just a well fought hockey game. Both teams were really good defensively. There werent a lot of second chances.
Both goaltenders (Faulkner and Lake States Brian Mahoney-Wilson) at times made the save and got rid of the rebounds. Offensively that could have been a 5-4 game.
Added Roque: Brian played outstanding in net (making 37 saves). He made some big saves. If you have good goaltending youre going to have a chance. Hes given us some timely goaltending all year.
Nebraska opened the scoring midway through the opening period when Jeric Agosta buried a loose puck past Mahoney-Wilson but it was all the offense the Mavericks could muster in the loss. Nick McParland scored the other Lakers goal in the win after Faulkner made an initial save on a point shot from Zach Trotman.
It was a hard-fought game, said Roque. I didnt expect anything less. Id like to see us do some things better. Our passing at times was atrocious, but Nebraska plays fast too so you dont have a lot of time to make plays.
Lake States well coached, Blais added. Theyre well disciplined. They got pretty good goaltending and theyre defensemen are mobile and they dont make bad decisions with the puck or without the puck and for us thats as well as we can play up-and-down the ice.
The loss extended a scoring slump for the Mavericks in the loss. The team has now scored two goals or fewer in seven straight games and nine of their last 11.
The loss also continued the Mavericks struggles on the road as they dropped to 1-7-1-1 in conference road games this season.
Of note on the Lakers side, the home team won 33 faceoffs in the game. That included a strong night from Fred Cassiani, who led the Lakers with 13 wins in 16 draws while Schofield also won 13 faceoffs.
On the man advantage, neither team scored on Friday night with the Lakers scoreless in three attempts while Nebraska was 0-for-4 on the power play,
As the two teams prep for Saturday night and the weekend finale, the Lakers enter the game with a 13-8-4-1 record (8-7-2-1 in conference) while the Mavericks record dropped to 10-10-6-1 (6-9-2-1). Puck drop on Saturday night is 7:30.
The win, combined with a 6-0 loss by Alaska against Michigan, moved the Lakers into a fourth place tie in the CCHA standings. Friday nights results guarantee that the Lakers will come out of weekend action at worst in a tie for fourth in the conference.