SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — It’s no secret that having a lead heading into the third period is a comforting thought.
For the Lake Superior State Lakers, they managed to run their record when leading after 40 minutes to a perfect 10-0 on Saturday night, thanks to a 4-3 win over the Miami RedHawks at Taffy Abel Arena.
The Lakers win snapped Miami’s three-game winning streak heading into the game.
“We knew going in this weekend was going to be a battle,” said Lakers coach Jim Roque. “Both teams had pretty even records going in. I thought (Kevin) Kapalka played really well both nights and gave us a chance to win. We just found a way to win a game.”
The RedHawks took the lead in the opening period when Jimmy Mullin broke down the right wing and his shot from the right faceoff circle beat Lakers goaltender Kevin Kapalka five-hole just over nine minutes into the game.
The lead held up until Nick McParland beat Miami goaltender Cody Reichard at 5:41 of the middle period to tie the game at one. Zach Trotman proceeded to give the Lakers a 2-1 lead when his point shot found its way past Reichard just 40 seconds later.
Miami’s Matt Tomassoni and Lake State’s Colin Campbell then traded goals to cap off the period, with the Lakers leading 3-2 heading into the final frame.
Fred Cassiani gave the Lakers a two-goal cushion by potting his fourth goal of the season just 2:14 into the third period. Mullin scored his second goal of the night just 1:05 later, but the RedHawks could not get the equalizer, as the Lakers held on for the victory in a game that saw Miami set a season high for shots on goal with 46 in the loss.
Miami coach Enrico Blasi was succinct in addressing the play of his hockey club in the loss, saying, “They (Lake State) executed one more play than we did.”
Miami played the weekend series without the services of forward Tyler Biggs. Biggs was suspended for a pair of games after a hit during the RedHawks’ series against Michigan State last weekend, a hit that went unpenalized during the game.
Kapalka stopped 43 shots for the Lakers in the win while Reichard stopped 22 shots for Miami in the loss.
The victory also continued an interesting trend for the Lakers that saw them struggle in the opening game of a weekend series, only to battle back and win the second game. Following Friday night’s 2-1 loss to Miami, the Lakers record in game one of their conference series was 2-7-0. With Saturday’s win, the Lakers improved to 6-1-2 in the second conference game of the weekend.
With the win, the Lakers improve their CCHA record to 8-8-2 (13-10-3 overall), while the RedHawks fall to 8-8-2 in the conference and 12-10-2 overall. With Saturday’s win, the Lakers spring past Notre Dame in the CCHA standings and move one point ahead of the Fighting Irish and into sole possession of third. The Lakers currently trail second-place Western Michigan by five points and league-leading Ohio State by six points.
Miami sits tied with Notre Dame in fourth spot.
The CCHA standings remain tight, with just three points separating third-place Lake State and ninth-place Northern Michigan.
Both teams are back in action next weekend. The Lakers hit the road to take on Michigan State at East Lansing, while the RedHawks return home to face Western Michigan.