SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — The Lake Superior State Lakers scored an extremely important regulation victory on Saturday night, beating Alaska, 4-2, at the Taffy Abel Arena, picking up three points that vaulted them into a tie for sixth spot in the CCHA standings with four games remaining. The Lakers now sit tied with Alaska and Northern Michigan, and all three teams are just three points behind fifth-place Ferris State.
“I thought we deserved to win (Friday night) outright, moreso than we did tonight; we didn’t have our best stuff tonight,” said Lakers coach Jim Roque. “We missed a lot of passes, and we missed the net a lot tonight. We had some good chances, and we found a way to win.”
The victory came on the heels of a Friday-night game that saw the two teams skate to a 3-3 tie before Alaska picked up the extra point by winning the shootout 1-0.
“You look at the game and you look at the way we played, I was happy with the way we played,” said Alaska coach Dallas Ferguson. “We were down 1-0 and came back and then went down 2-1 and killed off a big penalty going into the third period and got ourselves back in the hockey game.”
Will Acton paced the Lakers offensively with a goal and an assist, as he scored the game-winning goal with under two minutes remaining in the third period and the game tied at two. Acton held onto the puck on a two-on-one and beat Alaska goaltender Scott Greenham high under the crossbar.
“That was a big-time shot there by Will up under the bar against a real good goalie,” said Roque. “That’s a big-time play to get a goal there.
Said Ferguson: “It was a pretty even third period and you look at the way the game goes, the guy we want to get the puck on his stick (Andy Taranto) with a lot of time leans on his stick and breaks his stick and all of a sudden it’s a two-on-one back the other way. Acton made a great shot on the play.”
Dillin Stonehouse, Kyle Haines and Domenic Monardo also scored for the Lakers in the victory. Lakers goaltender Kevin Kapalka stopped 30 shots to pick up his ninth win of the season and, although he didn’t factor in on the scoring, veteran Lakers forward Rick Schofield was dominant in the faceoff circle winning 15 of 18 draws to lead all players in the game. Jarret Granberg and Kevin Petovello scored for Alaska.
“For the weekend, I thought our team played hard,” Ferguson said. “We played with a lot of intensity, and we had a lot of chances, but the pucks just aren’t going into the net for us. Obviously, we’re not happy about losing the hockey game, but overall both games were played well by us and we had a chance to win both.”
With the win, the Lakers record improves to 8-9-7-4 in CCHA action (10-12-8 overall) while Alaska drops to 9-12-5-3 in CCHA action and 12-13-5 overall.
Both teams are back in action next weekend. Alaska hosts Michigan State in their final conference games of the regular season before competing against Alaska-Anchorage the following weekend in the Governors Cup.
As for Lake Superior State, they travel down the highway to Columbus, Ohio to take on Ohio State. The Lakers return home the following weekend for a two-game set against Miami (Ohio).