Preview: Hockey Opens 55th Season with a Non-Conference Series Against Michigan Tech

For Starters
– Lake Superior State is set to open the program’s 55th season of play with a non-conference series against Upper Peninsula rival, Michigan Tech on Saturday, Nov. 21 and Sunday, Nov. 22. The pair of games is the first of seven non-conference games that the Lakers will play before the 18-game Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) conference schedule begins. Saturday’s game is set for a 5:07 p.m. puck drop while Sunday’s match-up is slated for a 3:07 p.m. start at the Taffy Abel Arena.

– The Lakers return to the ice following a seventh place finish in the WCHA standings during the 2019-20 season as the team posted a 14-23-4 overall record and an 11-14-4 record in conference play. LSSU qualified for the WCHA postseason for the second consecutive season and would fall to the second seeded Bemidji State in the first round of the playoffs.
– Lakers Head Coach Damon Whitten begins his seventh season behind the bench in Sault Ste. Marie in 2020-21. Whitten has led the team to a 80-126-24 record, and playoff appearances in all but one season.

Welcome Back
-The Lakers return 10 forwards ( Alex AmbrosioLouis BoudonAshton CalderHampus ErikssonNiko Esposito-SelivanovChase GamelinDustin ManzYuki MiuraMiroslav MuchaPete Veillette), six defensemen ( Arvid HenriksonLukas KaelbleMichael MannaraJacob NordqvistMitchell OliverWill Riedell), and two goaltenders ( Seth EiseleMareks Mitens) from last season’s roster.

– Lake Superior’s skaters will return 60% of last season’s goal scoring (58 of 96 total goals), 81% of last season’s assist totals (142 of 176 total assists) and 74% of the total points recorded (200 of 272 total points).
– Four of the Lakers top five goal scorers from last season are back this season (Calder, Veillette, Boudon, Eriksson), nine of the top 10 assist scorers (Boudon, Eriksson, Calder, Veillette, Riedell, Miura, Nordqvist, Kaelble, Oliver), and nine of the top 10 point getters (Calder, Boudon, Veillette, Eriksson, Riedell, Miura, Nordqvist, Kaelble, Manz).

– LSSU had five players among the top 33 scorers in the WCHA last season, with all but one returning to the lineup this season.

– Last season the Lakers had nine players record 10 or more points with eight of those skaters returning this season. Five players registered at least 24 points and four of them are returning members of the 2020-21 squad.

– Senior goaltender Mareks Mitens will backstop the Lakers this season, following a strong 2019-20 season in net (2.57GAA, .911%). Mittens appeared in 39 games, making 38 starts and finished the season with a career-best 13 wins.

– Mitens ranked first among all WCHA goaltenders in games played and games started, and played more minutes (2291:59) than any other NCAA netminder in 2019-20. The Latvia native was one of three NCAA goalies to make 1000 or more saves last season.

– The Laker goalie ranks seventh in the nation in saves among all active NCAA netminders with 1,690.

“Fresh” Faces
– The freshman class is composed of seven student-athletes, including four forwards ( Spencer DenBesteBenito PosaJoshua WildauerTyler Williams), two defensemen ( Jacob BengtssonJeremy Gervais) and a goaltender ( Ethan Langenegger). Additionally, two transfer forwards ( Brandon Puricelli, UMD; Jack Jeffers, UAH) will join the Lakers this year.

– DenBeste played for the Johnstown Tomahawks (NAHL) during the 2019-20 season, posting 15 goals and 14 assists for 29 points in 44 games. DenBeste spent the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons playing for the Soo Indians in Sault Ste. Marie.

– Posa spent the 2019-20 season split between the Green Bay Gamblers and the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL and combined for 14 points (7G, 7A) in 42 games.

– Williams spent the 2019-20 season playing for the Nanaimo Clippers of the BCHL and registered 31 points (10G, 21A) in 58 games played.

– Bengtsson recorded 16 points (2G, 14A) in 29 games with the Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL) during the 2019-20 season.

– Gervais split the 2019-20 season between the Bonnyville Pontiacs (AJHL) and the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (BCHL). Gervais totaled 52 points (8G, 44A) in 53 games.

– Langenegger posted a 23-15-3 record in the 2019-20 season for the Salmon Arm Silverbacks of the BCHL, with a 2.79 goals against average and a .908 save percentage. Langenegger was named the Silverbacks Most Valuable Player in 2019-20.

Coming Off Career Years
– A number of the upperclassmen on the Lakers roster are coming off offensive career highs set during the 2019-20 season.

– Senior defenseman Will Riedell set career highs in goals with five, assists with 13 and points with 18.

– Alex Ambrosio, a senior forward, set highs in goals (3), assists (3), and points (6) last season.

– Forward Pete Veillette set new career highs in goals (12), assists (14), and points (26) as a sophomore.

– Junior forward Ashton Calder bested his previous career high in goals by scoring 12 goals last season while also setting a new career high in points with 28.

– Hampus Eriksson, a senior forward, set career highs in goals (6), assists (18), and points (24) last season for the Lakers. Eriksson surpassed the 20 point plateau for the first time in his collegiate career.

– Senior forward Yuki Miura set new season highs in assists (12) and points (14) while tying his previous season high in goals (2) last season.

– Miroslav Mucha, a junior forward, set career highs in goals (3), assists (5) and points (8) during the 2019-20 season.
– Laker goaltender Mareks Mitens set career highs in games played (39), games started (38), wins (13), saves (1006) last season while also tying his previous season best in shutouts (2).

Lakers vs. Michigan Tech
– The Lakers and Michigan Tech Huskies will both open the 2020-21 season this weekend, with the teams first of two meetings set for the year.

– Last season, the teams played each other four times, with the Huskies winning three of the games. The Huskies swept the opening series of the 2019-20 season by scores of 4-2 and 2-1. The Lakers responded with a 7-3 win at Michigan Tech in the opening game of the Winter Carnival series and the Huskies closed out the weekend with a win in overtime.

– Will Riedell (7A) leads all current Lakers in career points against Michigan Tech and Ashton Calder ranks second on the team with six career points against the Huskies (3G, 3A).

– Mareks Mitens has faced the Huskies eight times in his career and holds a 2-4-2 record against them.

– In the all-time series between the two teams, the Huskies hold the advantage in the series against the Lakers with a 49-25-7 record.

Scouting the Huskies
– Michigan Tech is led by Joe Shawhan, who is in his third season as head coach of the Huskies. Shawhan, who is a Sault Ste. Marie native and attended LSSU, served as assistant coach at Lake Superior State from 2005-08.

– Shawhan was a goaltender for the Lakers from 1982-87, and totaled 1,130 saves in his career. He led the CCHA in both goals against average and save percentage during the 1985-86 season and left the program tied for first all-time in career GAA at 3.83.

– Tech finished the 2019-20 season with a 21-15-3 overall record, winning 20 games for the sixth time in the last seven seasons

– The Huskies return 8 of their top 9 scorers from last season.
– Tech is fifth in the nation in returning goals (86) and seventh in returning points (220).

– The Huskies are led by captain Alec Broetzman, a junior forward, and alternate captains, Trenton Bliss and Eric Gotz.

Balanced Attack
– Lake Superior State’s skaters will return 60% of last season’s goal scoring (58 of 96 total goals), 81% of last season’s assist totals (142 of 176 total assists) and 74% of the total points recorded (200 of 272 total points).

– Four of the Lakers top five goal scorers from last season are back this season (Calder, Veillette, Boudon, Eriksson), nine of the top 10 assist scorers (Boudon, Eriksson, Calder, Veillette, Riedell, Miura, Nordqvist, Kaelble, Oliver), and nine of the top 10 point getters (Calder, Boudon, Veillette, Eriksson, Riedell, Miura, Nordqvist, Kaelble, Manz).

– LSSU had five players among the top 33 scorers in the WCHA last season, with all but one returning to the lineup this season.

– Last season the Lakers had nine players record 10 or more points with eight of those skaters returning this season. Five players registered at least 24 points and four of them are returning members of the 2020-21 squad.

– Nine different players netted the game winning goal for the Lakers in 2019-20 – with six of those players returning to the lineup this year.

Anchored Down
– The Lakers return a strong back end presence with five defensemen who played 30 or more games last season as well as the team’s starting goaltender, Mareks Mitens.

– The returning Laker defensemen combine for 357 career collegiate games played while adding 22 goals, and 94 assists for a total of 116 points.

– Senior defenseman Lukas Kaelble played in all 41 games for the Lakers last season and totaled 12 points (2G, 10A). Kaelble led the Lakers in blocked shots with 39.

– Kaelble, the Laker captain, was awarded the team’s Most Valuable Defenseman at the close of the 2019-20 season.

– Senior defenseman Will Riedell is coming off a career year as he appeared in all 41 games for the Lakers during the 2019-20 season and set personal highs in all offensive categories. The alternate captain recorded five goals, 13 assists and 18 points and ranked first among Laker defensemen in assists and points.

– Riedell led the team with a +13 rating and registered five multi-point games, including a career-best three point game (3A) on Feb. 7 at Michigan Tech. His best month of the season came in February as he recorded nine points (3G, 6A) in eight games and was named WCHA Defenseman of the Week on Feb. 10 and was the WCHA Defenseman of the Month for February.

– Junior Jacob Nordqvist and junior Mitchell Oliver round out the remaining upperclassmen returning on the blue line for the Lakers. Nordqvist played in 35 games for the Lakers in 2019-20 and finished the season with 13 points (2G, 11A). He was tied for second on the team in game winning goals with two. Oliver competed in 38 games for the Lakers last season and recorded eight assists.

– Three of last year’s regulars recorded at least 12 points – Will Riedell (18), Nordqvist (13), and Kaelble (12).

Between the Pipes
– Senior goaltender Mareks Mitens will backstop the Lakers this season, following a strong 2019-20 season in net (2.57 GAA, .911%). Mittens appeared in 39 games, making 38 starts and finished the season with a career-best 13 wins.

– Mitens ranked first among all WCHA goaltenders in games played and games started, and played more minutes (2291:59) than any other NCAA netminder in 2019-20. The Ventspils, Latvia native, who finished the season with 1,002 saves, was one of three NCAA goalies to make 1000 or more saves last season.

– The netminder finished the season in fifth place among WCHA goalies in save percentage and seventh place among that same group in goals against average

– Mitens was named WCHA Goaltender of the Week on Dec. 16. 2019 after stopping 64 of 67 shots against No. 10 Bowling Green in a weekend split.

– In the final month of the regular season, Mitens recorded a pair of shutouts (2/14/20 vs. UAH, 2/28/20 at Ferris State) to bring his career shutout total to five. The Laker goalie would go on to stop a season-high 45 shots in the Lakers 5-3 win over Bemidji State in game two of the WCHA Quarterfinals last season.

– Mitens appeared in 11 games for the Lakers in 2018-19 and 19 games in his freshman season in 2017-18.

Other Information
– Every week Bill Crawford along with Head Coach Damon Whitten, the assistant coaches and players take a look at the Laker Hockey program. A review of past games, a look ahead to future action and more information and insight on the team and players. The show airs every Thursday morning on ESPN 1400.

– All Laker home and away games during the 2020-21 season will be available to watch live on FloHockey, the WCHA’s streaming partner. For more information or to sign up for a subscription, visit https:/ www.flohockey.tv.

– Bill Crawford and Matt Pocket will be calling the Laker games this season. The radio call will be available to listen to on 99.5 Yes FM, the official radio station of Laker hockey. The broadcast stream can also be accessed at www.yesfm.net

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