Lake Superior State[ Finished Seventh In The [category last season, immediately following a 2018-19 campaign that earned the Lakers their best record in 22 years, and now they sit at the bottom of the conference again — for now.
Currently in eighth in the now eight-team WCHA — after both Alaska schools announced their suspension of play in the 2020-21 season — LSSU’s current position belies their abilities.
Northern Michigan (0-2, 0 pts.) and Ferris State (0-3-0-1, 1 pt.) both remain winless in conference play, giving the Lakers the leg up in points available when they play their first WCHA series this weekend.
The Lakers will take on No. 5-ranked Minnesota State to kick off their 14-game stretch, where 42 points will be up for grabs between now and Feb. 27.
Sitting with a 6-1-3 overall record, the Lakers are showing more fight than last season, where they dealt with the loss of the nation’s top goal scorer Diego Cuglietta, in addition to Anthony Nellis, Gage Torrel, and Nick Kossoff.
The two former players finished in the top five in team scoring while Kossoff manned the crease for 70 percent of the Lakers’ breakthrough season, backing them to a 17-8-2 record for the 11th best win percentage in the nation.
Despite a career year from senior Max Humitz, replacing that overall offensive production and goaltending reliability is difficult over the course of one summer, a fact evident in the Lakers’ 14-23-4 record in the following season.
Now a year removed, the team is off to a promising bounce back. Upperclassmen have once again taken the reigns in addition to another senior netminder playing at his best.
Junior Ashton Calder is breaking out offensively with a team-leading five goals and 11 points in 10 games. He’s remaining vigilant in his two-way play and helping establish accountability among the offense.
Joined by junior forward Pete Veillette (4 G, 4 A) and senior defensemen Lukas Kaelble (0 G, 8 A) and William Riedell (2 G, 5 A), the upperclassmen are leading the way in the offensive zone and helping Mareks Mitens make up the fourth-best team GAA in the nation 1.80 GAA.
Pete Veillette named WCHA Forward of the Week. Three goals, including two in the OT comeback Saturday. Mareks Mitens named WCHA Goaltender of the Week. He's been one of the best goalies in the country over the past 12 months. 59 saves on 62 shots vs NMU. @HockeyLSSU— Matt Pocket (@cornerpocket422) January 11, 2021
Mitens has established himself among the best netminders in the country this season. The senior holds a 4-1-3 record, backed by a 1.57 GAA and .941 GAA. His numbers place him in the top 10 in each category. Mitens is consistently outperforming his counterpart on the opposite end of the ice and is giving his team a chance to win every night.
With their confidence in full force and a record to show for it, the Lakers are entering conference play at the opportune time, despite having to face the nation’s fifth-ranked for their first six points on the line.
The No. 5 Mavericks hold a 5-1-1 overall record and 2-0 record in conference play. The men from Mankato also hold a 9-1 record over the Lakers in over their last 10 matchups. The Lakers will not count themselves out heading into the weekend, but no matter how the upcoming weekend plays out, they must retain their confidence. There will still be a lot of points in play against more equally matched opponents from now until the conference tournament.
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