5-3: Lakers Earn Game Three with improved defense, depth scoring and more- What to watch for in game three

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

On a Saturday night at the Sanford Center in beautiful Bemidji, the Lakers of Lake Superior State earned a 5-3 win in game two in their first round WCHA playoff series against the Beavers of Bemidji State.  Mareks Mitens stood tall for the Lakers in net making 45 saves on 48 shots faced . His counterpart, Zach Driscoll, made 24 saves on 28 shots faced. Game three takes place Sunday night at 6:07 PM to determine who moves to the WCHA Semifinals. Bemidji State most likely has to win to maintain their at-large hopes, while the Lakers need a win to continue their season.

The game winning goal was scored by a long-sweeping back hand from the mid slot courtesy of Hampus Eriksson 7:42 into the second period. That goal at the time put the Lakers up two, but ended up proving helpful insurance as Elias Rosen put home a point shot for the Beavers 13:43 into the third period precipitating a furious Beavers’ comeback attempt late in the game that came up just short.

The Lakers got contributions from all over the lineup in game two. Miroslav Mucha put home the first goal of the night to tie things up 13:33 into the first period. On the night, Bemidji State only lead 2:05 all game. Mucha’s marker combined with a Bryan Basilico tally 13 seconds later gave the Lakers their first lead of the weekend. That lead was short lived as Alex Adams tied things up 1:14 after the second Lakers’ marker.

Following that, Max Humitz potted the first of his two markers as he put home the third goal of the night 3:29 into the second period.  He later added the empty net marker right before time expired for his 21st marker of the season. The Lakers managed to play relatively penalty free on the night as well only giving up two power plays on two minor penalties on the night. One of those was in stopping a breakaway that could have lead to a Bemidji State goal.

What to watch for in the finale 

Head Coach Damon Whitten praised his depth in this one. On offense, the Lakers got big boosts from depth players like Mucha. On defense, the big Lakers back line blocked shots and made life a little easier for Mareks Mitens despite being hemmed in their own end for large points of the evening. Everyone on the team for the Lakers tonight contributed in some way and Whitten was sure to point that out. Also, the Lakers did a much better job limiting turnovers in their own end. Bemidji State still buried one of those chances, but credit to the Lakers for using their size and strength to hold the lead after claiming the two goal advantage. Bemidji State will surely try a few different things in game three to get the defenders of Lake Superior State moving. Despite getting 94 shot attempts, Mitens only saved 48. Bemidji State will want more pucks to the net, while the Lakers will want to get a little more offensive zone time. Look below for post game comments from Whitten, Mitens, Eriksson, and Beavers’ Head Coach Tom Serratore on the night.

Whitten’s Comments

Also, Mitens praised his team in front of him on the evening and explained why Eriksson’s backhand is so hard to stop especially from where he fired home the goal.

In addition, Eriksson added his thoughts on the evening.

Serratore’s comments on the night and some things to watch for from Bemidji State in the series finale.

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Unkind iron: Lakers lose WCHA Round One series opener 2-0- Now What?

(Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

Coming into this weekend, the Lakers of Lake Superior State are undoubtedly the underdogs in their quest to upset the second seeded Beavers of Bemidji State in the first round of the WCHA Men’s Hockey Playoffs. Despite being one of the best defensive teams in the second half of the season, ironically it was two bad attempts to get out of the zone that did the Lakers. Adam Brady opened the scoring ledger for the Beavers as he found a pass from Aaron Miller and deposited what turned out to be the game winner against Lakers’ netminder Mareks Mitens who finished the night with 33 saves on 35 shots faced.

The Lakers’ inability to clear the chance from the Beavers lead to the goal that barely got past Mitens. In the first period, the Lakers held the better of play with 10 shots on net. Unlike the Beavers’, the Lakers could not capitalize on their chances all night. Their best period, the first included two hit posts from Max Humitz and Pete Veillette.

After not scoring in the first, the Lakers were again victimized by an inability to clear. Alex Adams found Owen Sillinger on the back door and he deposited the insurance marker. Bemidji State netminder Zach Driscoll finished the game with a  27 save shutout on the evening. Those goals coming at 3:07 of the first and 4:21 of the second period proved decisive on this night in a game that Bemidji State controlled the pace of for about the last two frames of hockey.

Now What? 

Heading into game two, some things to watch for with the Lakers come down to a simple ask. Score first, the Lakers had the better run of play for the first few minutes of the game and throughout the first period at large. Bemidji State Head Coach Tom Serratore noted that his team “played like the road team” throughout the first period. The Lakers were moving their feet and generating chances and forcing Bemidji State to adjust to their speed, which they later did. The Lakers missed their best chance to shape the narrative of the game by not scoring first. As noted, they hit two posts in the first period alone.

Lakers’ Head Coach Damon Whitten noted the value in getting ahead of Bemidji State. If the Lakers can earn a spot at the net front with more regularity in the Saturday night affair, they may have a better chance at earning a game three. In addition, as Lake Superior State Captain Max Humitz noted, his team needs to stay out of the penalty box. The amount of penalties that Lake Superior State took sapped the Lakers of a chance to get back into the game at five on five hockey, where they looked the best. On the penalty kill, Whitten did note the positive play of speedy forward, Yuki Miura, who consistently blocked shots and used his poise to help clear pucks time after time.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape, please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link: https://www.paypal.me/oliverfrancies your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

Supporters: We thank all of our readers and those who donate, especially Greg and Michelle Livingston

What’s Next for the Chargers: A Q-A With Head Coach Mike Corbett

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Saturday in Men’s College Hockey, for some teams brought an end to their season. Not all conferences offer a chance at postseason glory to all of its participants. Among one of those teams not making the second season is the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville (UAH). Despite finishing with a not good 2-26-6 record, the Chargers and their Head Coach, Mike Corbett have some positives to build on heading into the next season not all easily all shown in their final record.

First off, goaltender Mark Sinclair has routinely made 40 plus saves on a nightly basis and has gotten a lot of looks all over the ice. In January he held his team in both games against a superb North Dakota side that is number one in the Pairwise. Sinclair seems to be the next in a long line of Chargers’ goalies capable of winning games on their own.

If players like Josh Latta, the Chargers’ leading scorer and just a sophomore next year can progress, this team with its large recruiting class will shock some people. Latta’s play picked up since the calendar hit November. Since November he has potted 15 of his total 18 points in 26 games. Three of those came against the number one team in the Pairwise in North Dakota.

His line mate, Christian Rajic is a rising senior and another source of hope for the Chargers. I have never seen a player shut up about 11,000 UND fans quicker than he did. 18 seconds into the Friday night fracas against the Fighting Hawks, with Latta getting the secondary assist, Rajic gave the Chargers a lead which shocked everyone in college hockey. Rajic and Latta both play a scrappy game that fits well together and both will be called on to lead the Chargers up front with Sinclair in net next season.

Now, off the ice, a lot of things remain to be decided for the Chargers heading into next year. At the time of writing this, the Chargers do not have a conference to play in beyond next year,as they were not invited at first pass to the new look CCHA which is, as of now, the current WCHA minus the two Alaska schools and the Chargers.

Head Coach Mike Corbett recently took the time to answer some questions about conference affiliation, the Chargers’ program, the impact of the program’s five departing seniors; Austin Beaulieu, Connor James, Sean Rappleyea, Teddy Rotenberger, and Brandon Salerno, along with things his staff will be doing in the offseason in conjunction with a new UAH Administration to grow Chargers Hockey.

Below are his answers to my questions. The Chargers have a long offseason ahead of them, but having Corbett at the helm who is also chief fundraiser for his program, is the right move for this team and program going forward. This program has a strong level of affinity for it, a dedicated group of donors that contribute to it, and a culture of loyalty and perseverance endemic to the type of person Corbett is. The Chargers look to have a big, yet to be finalized recruiting class that should step into the lineup right away and help them across the board as well.

Just remember, while Corbett is Head Coach for this program he is also the main one responsible for fundraising for it, and he recruits all over North America and beyond.-Corbett is currently leading the push to get UAH into a conference for play in the 2021-2022 season and beyond.

1. Have any conferences approached you to join them?

“We have not been approached by any conferences to join. Nor did we expect
to be approached.”

2. Is there a conference UAH would prefer to join and why?

” There is a place for UAH in college hockey, I truly believe that. We have
the ability to be a strong partner within the sport. First of all we have
to look at a conference that is looking to add a member, typically one that
has an odd number of teams for scheduling purposes. The new CCHA would be a
good fit geographically as teams can bus to us and it is very easy to get
here by plane. The ties we have with these schools from our time in the
WCHA, can help us moving forward with this process.”

3. How has fundraising been for the team this year?

“It has been on track with other years. We have a tremendous hockey alumni
base here… Also a strong core of UAH Hockey supporters. They not only
help us financially and they have passion for the program and see how hockey
is in the fabric of the University and the community. We have 41 years of
hockey here and a strong tradition… We have to continue to grow that base
more and more every year.”

4. What are your plans to help more people take notice of the Chargers
during the offseason?

” First of all we have to get our conference situation remedied. We need to
focus on continuing to put our program in the public eye. Especially on our
campus, and in the City of Huntsville. We have to win our 400 acre campus
first and grow from there… We have a new administration and sit down with
them and brainstorm ideas to expand our brand and put that brand in front of
as many people and businesses that we can! ”

5. Add anything else about your program that you would like to include.

” Moving forward we have to continue to solidify our program, build its
foundation with alums, fans, and our campus. We are always building and
moving forward improving. Sometimes not as fast as we like but there is
many positives as our campus continues to grow… Our administration is
100% behind us as we venture forward and attempt to get into a new
conference. We have everything a player needs to accomplish his goals
athletically and academically. We have to continue to show that to recruits
and their families. Getting players on our campus to see the growth of the
campus and the city is paramount to building this program. We have a very
strong education, a vibrant campus, and a city that is investing over 6
billion dollars in development as we speak.

My staff and I are going to work to show and educate as many people as we
can about all the positives we have at The University of Alabama Huntsville.
We are on the right track and need to find more and more players that add
value to our University. Continue building and clawing against all the
myths of what people think and show them we are ready to make an impact in
college hockey…”

6. Talk about what your departing seniors have meant to this program.

” This group has endured a lot… They have definitely left this program and
university better then when they got here…  We have had some tough
seasons, these guys have worked on the ice and in the classroom like the
strong successful young men that they are!  I am very proud of this group
how they have battled the adversity and came out on top!  They will be
successful in everything they do moving forward.”

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape, please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link: https://www.paypal.me/oliverfrancies your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

Supporters: We thank all of our readers and those who donate, especially Greg and Michelle Livingston

Penrose: How UND earned 2-1 win over Western Michigan and what’s next

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

Tonight, at a sold out Ralph Engelstad Arena, the Fighting Hawks’ Men’s Hockey team earned a share of the Penrose Cup with a 2-1 win in overtime over the Broncos of Western Michigan. This game had a playoff like atmosphere with neither team eclipsing 20 shots on net. Opportunities for fancy highlights were few and far between in this one.

The game was won on a perfect Shane Pinto shot off a rebound in overtime to seal a share of the NCHC Regular season championship.The Fighting Hawks also got a goal from Collin Adams in the first period on  superb zero angle shot that Shane Pinto called “sick.” Western Michigan had a disallowed goal in overtime a few seconds before UND raced down the ice and scored the game winner. In judgement of the officials, it was determined that Hugh McGing did not do enough to avoid contact with Adam Scheel.

It was a coin flip call that went UND’s way tonight, but could  go against them with officials from a different conference in the postseason. Next up for UND is a final regular season trip to Omaha to take on a Mavericks team looking to get on the good side of the ledger before heading to the NCHC playoffs in the following week.

What now?

For the Fighting Hawks some things stood out in this one. First off, Jasper Weatherby is viewed by this coaching staff as a top six forward. He has superb numbers as a center this year, but rolled on the wing of Pinto and compliments his skill with net front presence and rangy ability to win battles n the corners. What that also means for UND is that other centers have to do better in the faceoff circle going forward. Other than Pinto, the other three centers that played tonight won 10 draws and lost 20. Keep an eye on how UND deploys its lines to improve on that stat going forward.

As we said before, this team has two worthy playoff goalies that can play against anyone on any night. Perhaps next week the Fighting Hawks will get Peter Thome and Adam Scheel a start each to get a little more film before the postseason begins. In the postseason, opponent matching goalies is not a bad way to go if you have two starters on one team. It worked for UND this weekend and could very well work in the NCAA Tournament where, should UND win, they could face two very different teams in two days.

The accomplishments of this team are superb and this group has made up for the past two years of National Tournament misses that do not sit well with a fan base used to seeing their team play into April ,let alone late March. These Fighting Hawks are the number one team in the land and Penrose Cup Champions, but as St. Cloud State can tell you, it takes one bad period , one bad sequence, or just one off moment to ruin dreams of even the best team in the land. While UND winning everything is the goal, every game before the NCAA Tournament should be used as a learning opportunity. Yes winning still matters, but given that UND will be in the NCAA Tournament this year, they can play pressure free hockey in March before the national tourney begins. That is in and of itself its own luxury and one not to be taken for granted.

If UND can sure up some defensive gaps in their game against teams faster than Western Michigan, then there will be two Fighting Hawks banners in the Ralph next fall, one white one for their accomplishments over the season winning the Penrose, and one green one for a National Championship.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape, please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link: https://www.paypal.me/oliverfrancies your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

Supporters: We thank all of our readers and those who donate, especially Greg and Michelle Livingston