SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – The No. 19 Lake Superior State Lakers fell to the No. 5/4 ranked Minnesota State Mavericks by a final score of 3-0 in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) game on Friday, Jan. 15 in the Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
In a top 20 match-up, the Lakers and Mavericks played a high-paced, evenly matched first period. Minnesota State led with nine shots on goal in the period while the Lakers recorded six shots on goal.
One highlight of the series is the goaltending battle between two of the nation’s top goalies: LSSU’s Mareks Mitens and MSU’s Dryden McKay. Both goaltenders stopped all of the shots they faced in the opening period.
The Mavericks broke the scoreless tie at 8:28 of the second period when Julian Napravnik capitalized on a power play, following a perfect passing play by Cade Borchardt and Nathan Smith.
At 17:42 of the period, Minnesota State would double its lead when Wyatt Aarmodt sent a shot from the blue line that made its way through traffic, changing direction on its way towards Mitens. The shot beat Mitens to give the Mavericks a 2-0 lead.
The Mavericks sealed the win with exactly a minute remaining in the third period when Nathan Smith scored an empty net goal, while his team was on a power play to go ahead by three goals.
Special teams would prove to be the difference maker in the game with the Mavericks finishing the game with two power play goals and the Lakers unable to cash in on six opportunities.
Mitens finished the game with 24 saves while McKay stopped all 23 shots he faced in the game to record the shutout.
The start of the game was fast paced between the two teams with very few whistles in the opening few minutes of play. Minnesota would take the lead at 10:28 of the first period when Sam Morton scored his first goal of the game. The Mavericks then doubled their lead at 15:41 of the first when Dallas Gerads made it a 2-0 game.
The Lakers would come out strong to start the second period but an early penalty taken by LSSU would give the Mavericks their first power play of the game. Morton would score his second goal of the game when he capitalized on the power play to give Minnesota State a 3-0 lead at 3:39 of the second period.
At 10:11 of the second period, the Mavericks would add a fourth goal as Jack McNeely netted his first goal of the season. Following the fourth goal, Mareks Mitens was replaced in net by freshman netminder Ethan Langenegger. Mitens finished the game with 26 saves in 30:49 of playing time.
Lake Superior State forward Brandon Puricelli was assessed a five minute major penalty for boarding at 12:38 of the second period, giving the Lakers a five minute penalty to kill. Within the first minute of the power play, Minnesota State was called for a trip so the teams skated at four a side for two minutes.
While playing four-on-four, Miroslav Mucha was able to get the Lakers on the board with his fourth goal of the season. Mucha’s goal came right off an offensive zone face-off as Ashton Calder took the draw for the Lakers. Mucha pounced on the puck following the face-off and went straight to the net, getting past a Maverick defender to put the puck behind Minnesota State’s goaltender, Dryden McKay at 14:10 of the second period.
While still killing off the major penalty, the Lakers were called for a too many men penalty to put the team down by two skaters against the Mavericks. All three skaters on the ice for the Lakers combined for a goal scored by Yuki Miura to bring the Lakers back within two goals. Lukas Kaelble held the puck along the boards in the defensive zone before wrapping the puck around the perimeter to Hampus Eriksson. Eriksson connected a pass to Miura, who was skating through the neutral zone, and skated in all alone on McKay. Miura stickhandled around McKay and tucked the backhander behind the Mavericks goalie to make it 4-2 at 15:41 of the second.
In the third period, the Lakers were unable to complete their comeback as the Minnesota State Mavericks scored a pair of goals on Langenegger to clinch the win by a final score of 4-2.
Langenegger finished the game with a career-high 25 saves in the game. McKay stopped 16 shots by the Lakers in the game.
Next weekend, the Lakers will continue WCHA play on the road as the team travels to Houghton, Mich. to play a series against the Michigan Tech Huskies. The first game is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 22 at 6:07 p.m. and the series closer is set for a 4:07 p.m. start on Saturday, Jan. 23. Both games will be played at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
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