SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — It was a night of firsts at Taffy Abel Arena as Lake Superior State took on Alaska.
Friday night’s game marked the Lakers’ first conference game against a WCHA opponent, while the game was the first WCHA road game for the Nanooks.
In the end, the Lakers skated to a 4-1 win over Alaska.
The two teams skated to a scoreless, and uneventful, opening period.
Alaska took a 1-0 led six minutes into the second period as Trevor Campbell redirected a feed from Nolan Huysmans while driving to the Lakers’ goal. The Nanooks had an opportunity to go up by a pair just under two minutes later, but Garrick Perry’s shot from the left faceoff circle beat Lakers’ goaltender Kevin Kapalka stick side before ringing off the post.
The Lakers came back and scored three goals in just over six minutes to end the second period with a 3-1 lead. Alex Globke scored a pair of goals in the second period, while Eric Drapluk had the other goal for the Lakers in the middle stanza.
“We weren’t really good early, Alaska had the better jump,” said LSSU coach Jim Roque. “It took us a while to get going. I’m not really sure why. At the end of the game, I thought we were just more opportunistic than they were. When we had some good chances to score, we scored. They hit a pipe. They had some decent chances, but didn’t score. It was a pretty even hockey game. As the game went on, we got a little better because we got the lead.”
“We started the game pretty well, I like how we skated and we forechecked pretty well,” said Alaska coach Dallas Ferguson. “Even going into the second period, I felt we were at a good tempo and had a good flow to the game for us. We scored first, but after that, I felt we took our feet off the gas. We had some opportunities right after we scored that we didn’t capitalize on. Then, all of a sudden, [the Lakers] get one, then two, then they get three. We didn’t respond the right way after we had scored.”
Andrew Dommett gave the Lakers a 4-1 lead just over five minutes into the third period. Alaska thought they had cut into the LSSU lead late in the final period when Michael Quinn’s point shot was deflected in a crowd in the slot, but the goal was waved off due to an Alaska player being in the crease.
Lake Superior State senior forward Dan Radke chipped in with a pair of assists on the night.
“Radke, [Colin] Campbell and Globke have been together [on a line] since day one and they’ve got some chemistry going,” said Roque. “They’re on the power play together and we need that. We need some guys to emerge.”
Ferguson knows what his squad has to do to have a chance to get a series split Saturday night.
“We have to shore some things up in the defensive zone,” said Ferguson. “The goals and the scoring chances we were giving them were a little too easy. We have to tighten up in the defensive zone and capitalize on our opportunities.”
Kapalka finished the night with 29 saves for the Lakers. Alaska goaltender Davis Jones stopped 21 shots in the loss.
The win improves the Lakers overall record to 5-1-1 (1-0-0 WCHA), while Alaska falls to 4-3-2 overall (1-2-0 WCHA).