Sad state at Lake State

Randy Russon
February 26, 2018

Damon Whitten has had four full seasons to reverse the sad state of the Division 1 men’s hockey program at Lake Superior State University.

But Whitten has not even come close to making the Lakers a winner.

The numbers clearly show that Whitten has done a sub-par job as head coach of the Lakers, who failed to qualify for the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs this 2017-2018 season.

To be sure, Whitten’s record as bench boss of the Lakers is not pretty, regardless of any excuses that he or his backers may have.

It has been four losing seasons in a row for the Lakers under Whitten with uninspiring, respective records of 8-28-2, 14-22-5, 11-18-7 and 10-22-4.

Do the grade school arithmetic and Whitten’s four-year, overall record as the Lakers head coach stands at 43-90-18. Which is not even close to a passing grade.

In fact, in going from 8 wins in 2014-2015 up to 14 in 2015-2016 and then back down to 11 in 2016-2017 and further down to 10 in 2017-2018, it can be stated that the Laker program is going backward instead of forward under Whitten.

In all, the once-proud, three-time national championship hockey program at Lake Superior State has had six straight losing seasons and 10 in the past 11 years dating back to before Whitten when Jim Roque was coaching the Lakers.

And as Roque proved to be a failure and was ultimately fired as the head coach at LSSU, the good ship Laker has continued to flounder with Whitten at the helm.

What you think about “Sad state at Lake State”

  1. The numbers dont lie. Whitten has not got the job done and I am sick of his whining on the Radio every dam week. You need to take responssibility for the mess that you have made Coach !

    1. To be fair, Jim Roque started the mess. However Whitten has done a poor job attempting to clean it up. Next season might be his last chance.

  2. I went to a game last year, they played bowling green, they got smoked badly. I noted in the program that there were zero soo Canada players on that team. How is this possible? We have a ton of hockey talent right in their back yard , yet they have players from bc on the team.

    This is where it needs to start, recruit soo Canada players and watch the wins start to come!

    1. Owen Headrick was with the Lakers for a season and a half and then decided to go play for Erie of the OHL who had been after him since even before Owen decided to play for the Lakers. Aidan Wright is from Soo Ontario and before that Wawa. Chase Gamelin is from Soo MI. Ashton Calder (Soo MI) will be playing for the Lakers probably next season. For whatever reason, these days most of the more talented players from the Soo Ontario area have chosen to play major junior hockey rather than NCAA Division 1. Similarly, most of the talented players from the Thunder Bay area choose to play major junior rather than NCAA Division 1. The Lakers use to get quite a few players from both areas.

      1. I was only commenting about the lack of players from the soo on the team, I was not attempting to explain why not. Not very classy comment on your part indeed.

  3. Sounds like the lakers need a new scouting system also. There is a lot of talented american kids out there in the jr ranks also .

  4. I can not understand why Lake Superior only has 4 Michigan players on there roster. The state of Michigan has some of the best hockey players in the country and Lssu can only find 4. Fire your whole staff and do a nation wide search for a quality coach and let the coach hire his own assistants.This Program has been a joke for at least 8 years,and it’s almost more fun to go watch a circus than a hockey game

  5. Randy, thanks for pointing out the obvious….Whitten and his crew are horrible to say the least. We have all this local talent in North Michigan as well as our friends in Northern Ontario Canada and these clowns go every where else to find players. I see they have a kid from Japan playing for them, the hockey hot bed of the world!!! No offence to the kid but, Japan??? There’s enough talent on the Eagles and the Birds that they could take a kid or 2. I heard North Korea is the next hot bed for hockey talent!!!!!….embarrassment of a D1 hockey program.

    1. I have seen them play arguably their best series of the year. I saw the Saturday Sweep against Bemidji. Yuki Miura, the Japanese player, is incredibly fast and will help Lake State a lot next year. Also, in net, Mareks Mitens has the potential to be a hidden gem. He was one win away from a Robertson Cup in the NAHL with Aston. He stood on his head this night. Hopefully more Miura type players come to Lake State, regardless of where they are from. Check out my recap if you would like from the best result weekend saturday night for the Lakers all year. This team was able to tie Denver and hold its own in a lot of games. They will get better. Lake State has a lot of promise for next year, and put together their best string of hockey on their longest road trip of the year.

  6. you have got to pick quality players to win games and they have just not done that. One or two good players and a ton of so so players don’t win you anything. Who screens the candidates for being a coach up there anyway they need to start by firing him along with all the entire coaching staff. Then get an AD that has a clue about the game and hire him and get out of his way

  7. The fact that some of the top players from hb vh comp and lc want to play for lssu, but go on to play for osu nd bgsu ferris or wmu is laughable. Scouts for lssu are a joke and damon makes fun of his own players all the time. Fire him and get people who actually give a shit about the program instead of using it as a resume jumper.

  8. I heard Damon Whitten say on Laker Hockey Show say how the lakers are taking baby steps , and are getting better all the time. What a joke! Always saying it’s puck luck, sick of hearing that too,Plain and simple the coaching staff sucks and needs to be replaced, and no home games in February, that’s either coach or The AD fault, S

  9. Just leave Damon & other coaches alone you guys don’t know what you all are talking about Randy Russon doesn’t know what he is talking about don’t listen to Randy Russon anymore

  10. Justin the Genius LOL … Not! You have to be the most stupid Lakers fan ever … you do not even know a LOSING record when you see one … LOL.

  11. Justin you are as stupid as those clowns, maybe you should apply for equipment
    manager job you would fit in great with the cellar dwellers

    1. Why Don’t you just leave those comments to yourself… He’s standing up for a coach who yes has had his tough times, but its not also strictly the coaches fault. Players don’t want to come to LSSU because of the odds they might not get looked at by an NHL team, so they go to a bigger school that will hand them full ride scholarships for a year or two then they go pro. Not all the blame can be pointed towards Coach Whitten… but you’re the hockey guru here so what the hell do I know right?!

  12. Four years ago, the promised nation-wide search for a head coach amounted to driving over to Houghton and grabbing one of Mel Pearson’s assistants, hoping some of Mel’s magic would rub off. Joe Shawhan would have been a natural fit but, no, let’s go with an unknown.
    Anyone who watched a disinterested Lake State team get pounded and swept last spring by Michigan Tech should have seen the signs.
    You know, it’s no shame for Lake State admin to admit they can’t compete at the Div-1 level. Or aren’t willing. They can drop down a level or fold the program entirely. I mean, why go to the expense of icing a team that doesn’t represent the university well?
    The admin doesn’t seem to grasp that having competitive sports teams is a great marketing and investment opportunity. Just ask Alabama and Ohio State.

  13. Damon Whitten is a class act but he needs to start winning ASAP. If the Lakers have a losing season next year, he should get canned.

  14. I followed the WCHA all year. I watched an entire season of a coach saying “We are not a team that scores goals. We have to win games 1-0 or 2-1. We have to have better goaltending in order to compete” How can a coach throw his tenders under the bus like that? That LSSU team is not very good…the goaltending was certainly not their biggest problem. More importantly, why is it accepted by everyone for a coach to say that. His job is to make them better…not just admit that they are not good…or is it just me???

  15. SAD STATE AT LAKE STATE ! This is very true,Terrible team, losing money, poor attendance, Lssu students hardly show up, coaching staff have no displine on players,charge too much at box office to watch game,and then to listen to hockey show and hear all the excuses ( puck luck, referees )is bull shit!!!!!!!!!!!!! Get alumini to donate money , and go find Quality coach and start all over because this team really is brutal ranked 58 out of 60 Div 1 teams.lo

  16. Hire John Parco the new head coach. He is a soo person. Makes great sense look at the job he has done with a young thunderbirds team

  17. Lake state could hire Mike Babcock it wouldn’t make a difference. What potential D1 player would come to soo mich if they even had at least one other option? Rink half full 100 percent of the time. 10 km away is one the best major junior teams in North America. It’s been years since I’ve been to a lakers game. Never found NCAA hockey that entertaining. That’s just my opinion. Maybe some people do enjoy it more than the ohl. But honestly if you were a young kid been recruited in the NCAA would lake state not be your last choice? I hope this dosent offend anyone it’s just the truth. I would see these guys in the dorms 10 years ago. They hated it. Bored out of their minds. But had no other options. It’s just the truth. Hopefully Barnabys kid dosent jump ship after one year. He’s a hell of a player. Lake state needs to focus on recruiting 20 years olds in the bchl and nahl who haven’t had much interest because of their age. I’m sure they will find a few diamond in the rough with that approach.

    1. noj alum, I agree to a certain extent….I’m sure there would be a few local kids who would play for the lakers if they were approached and maybe they have I can’t say because I don’t know. soo eagles have jake palmerio, ssm, ont, who is known as one of the best 200 ft players in the league as stated by randy himself , Brandon Gordon, ssm Michigan,arguably the best goalie in the nojhl, mark tassone, ssm ont, who has found his goal scoring touch since returning to the birds, Austin rowe, ssm, ont one of the nicest passers I’ve seen this year and he’s only been around since January of this year. bobby price, local kid who has great potential, just a rookie ….just to name a few. local kids will bring local fans and more local support. just my humble opinion. hard to beat the atmoshphere of the pullar though. one of the highest attendances in the nojhl and its just jr a hockey. the college hockey is that much better, just need a reason to go and support.

      1. a.b I agree with you regarding bringing in local talent will help drive up attendance. but at what cost? Not sure the names you mentioned are div 1 talent. That’s no knock against them. They are all great players and great kids. Gordon would be a nice fit as their 3rd goalie, but I assume he would rather play d3 and be a starter for 4 years of his eligibility. Hate to say it but his size is probably why he gets overlooked. Tassone has two more years to prove himself. He’s got tons of skill. One kid I like a lot is Max Khull. Hard to find a weakness in his game. I’m surprised he hasn’t been picked up by a team in the chl. Does Niagara still own his rights? His game seems more suited for major junior then college hockey.

        1. Noj alum. Lots of kids out there, I just kept it to the 2 local teams. I’m sure that’s why that palmerio kid was over looked as well but D1 carries some stigma with it so hard to say what a kid like Gordon would want. Having kids like we both mentioned couldn’t hurt them , definitely not make them any worse. Not sure about Khull and who owns his rights. One thing I do know is that the lakers need the do something

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