As the Lake Superior State Lakers are on a break from the ice until after Christmas, we peruse the Division 1, Western Collegiate Hockey Association team from the outside looking in.
The Lakers have a record of 5-8-1 within the WCHA, which has them tied for seventh place in the 10-team loop.
Overall, the Lakers have an 8-9-1 mark through 18 games.
As a low-scoring team that averaged less than two markers over 41 games last season, the Lakers have upped their per-game, goal-totals this season. Thus far this season, the Lakers have tallied 57 goals in 18 games and given up 54.
Under third-year head coach Damon Whitten, the Lakers have shown some improvement in the win-loss column this season.
A year ago, the Lakers finished with an overall record of 14-22-5 and ended up seventh in the WCHA standings with a 10-13-5 showing before losing in the first round of the playoffs.
Five players with considerable college eligibility remaining after this season top the Laker scoring chart.
Mitch Hults leads the Lakers with 6 goals, 15 assists, 21 points. Then it’s Gage Torrel at 8-7-15, Diego Cuglietta at 8-6-14, J.T. Henke at 5-9-14 and Owen Headrick at 2-12-14.
Headrick, a 1997 birth-year defenseman who hails from Garden River First Nation, is in his sophomore season as a Laker after being recruited from the Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.
Dependable junior defenseman Aidan Wright, who is from Wawa but who played much of his minor hockey in Sault Ste. Marie, is tops on the Laker plus-minus chart with a +12 showing in 18 games to date.
Junior goalie Gordon Defiel has been a workhorse between the pipes for the Lakers and has factored in all but one decision through 18 games.
The standout puck-stopper has a record of 8-8-1 to go with a 2.49 goals against average and .915 save percentage.
The Lakers have 8 home games to play in the 2017 portion of their schedule beginning with a match against the Northern Michigan Wildcats on Friday, January 6 at Taffy Abel Arena.
As part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the Lakers are not allowed to comment on players they may be scouting or those they may have commitments from but have yet to sign a National Letter of Intent form.
Six players of note from the aforementioned NOJHL are reportedly on the “watch list” of the Lakers and/or at least one other Division 1, NCAA program.
That list includes forwards Zach Senecal, Mark Tassone, Gage Stephney and Keegan Stevenson of the Soo Thunderbirds and goalie Myles Hektor and forward Anthony Bastianello from the Blind River Beavers.
From the Thunderbirds, Senecal has a 1998 birth date, Tassone and Stephney were both born in 1999 and Stevenson — a 2016 Ontario Hockey League draft pick of the Guelph Storm — has a 2000 birth date.
From the Beavers, Hektor was born in 1998 and Bastianello has a 2000 birth date.
1998 birth year forward Ashton Calder of the Michigan Soo, who has a future commitment to play for the Lakers, is in the midst of a good season with the Surrey Eagles of the British Columbia Hockey League.
In 29 games to date, the big power forward has 12 goals, 16 assists, 28 points.