SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — Lake Superior State returned to action on Friday night on home ice after a three-week break and returned in a big way.
The Lakers scored a 4-1 win over No. 13 Union at the Taffy Abel Arena in non-conference action to open the second half of the season.
Friday marked just the second meeting between LSSU and Union in the Division I era. On Nov. 27, 2009, the two schools skated to a 0-0 tie in the RPI Invitational.
“Give Lake State a ton of credit, they played a heck of a hockey game tonight,” said Union coach Rick Bennett. “They’ve beat some very good teams in college hockey and they’re a very good team. I don’t know what we expected. I don’t know what our guys thought. I thought we were really prepared tonight, but so be it. That’s why we play back-to-back.”
Lakers’ coach Jim Roque was pleased with his team after the lengthy Christmas break.
“For our first game back, you don’t know what to expect taking three weeks off, but we got good goaltending and some good bounces,” Roque said. “It was a really even hockey game. They had some good chances. There weren’t a lot of good chances either way, but we capitalized on ours and they didn’t on theirs.”
Roque added that some bounces the other way could have changed the game.
“We got some good bounces today,” said Roque. “Union hit a couple of crossbars and a couple of posts, so it could have went the other way, too.”
The two teams traded early goals in the opening minutes of the game as Zach Sternberg opened the scoring for Lake State at 2:17, only to see Matt Wilkins tie the game just 79 seconds later.
Domenic Monardo gave the Lakers a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission. Buddy Robinson increased the lead to 3-1 midway through the middle stanza.
The Lakers had an opportunity to take a bigger lead later in the second period when Tim Boyle took a major penalty for checking from behind, but the Lakers couldn’t capitalize and the score remained 3-1 into the third period.
Nick McParland sealed the win with an empty-net goal late in the game.
“We’ve been up-and-down throughout the year,” said Bennett. “We’ve had these issues throughout the year. We’ve had games where we think it’s just going to happen. It’s not just going to happen. Collectively, we have to get it together. Once we focus just on ourselves, we’ll be better off for it.”