Lakers look to extend winning ways

December 11, 2015

Riding the waves of a three-game winning streak, the Lake Superior State Lakers are home to the Michigan Tech Huskies in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series slated for tonight and Saturday evening at Taffy Abel Arena.

Tonight’s game begins at 7:37 and Saturday’s match has a 7:07 start. Both games will be broadcast live on radio station 99.5 YES-FM with Bill Crawford calling the play-by-play.

As Lake Superior State gets set for the two-game series, second-year coach Damon Whitten has the good ship Laker sailing in tranquil waters with a 4-3-3 record in the 10-team WCHA.

The sixth-place Lakers are just one point behind fifth-place Northern Michigan with two games in hand on the Wildcats and are just three points back of fourth-place Ferris State with four games in hand on the Bulldogs. And the Lakers trail third-place Michigan Tech by only five points with four games in hand on the Huskies.

Fresh and rested following an exhausting trip to Alaska last weekend in which the Lakers swept the Nanooks on the road for the first time since the 1996-1997 season, Whitten has a good idea what to expect from Michigan Tech tonight and Saturday.

“They are going to be an angry team considering they were swept at home by Alaska-Anchorage last weekend,” said Whitten, while appearing on the Hockey North Show, which airs on Tuesdays from 5-6 p.m. on radio station ESPN 1400. “That’s a good team coming in here and it will be a big test for us on our home ice.”

Whitten is familiar with the majority of the Michigan Tech players, having been involved in the recruiting of most of them while he was an assistant with the Huskies, prior to being hired as the Lakers head coach in 2014.

Statistically, the Lakers, who have an overall record of 6-9-3 through 18 games, are led by sophomore forward J.T. Henke, who has 6 goals, 5 assists, 11 points. Following Hults on the Laker scoring chart are freshman forward Mitch Hults at 4-5-9, freshman forward Gage Torrel at 3-6-9, junior forward Gus Correale at 3-5-8, freshman forward Anthony Nellis at 2-6-8, freshman defenseman Owen Headrick at 3-4-7, junior forward Alex Globke at 4-2-6 and freshman forward Diego Cuglietta at 2-4-6.

Headrick, who played the past two seasons with the Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League, leads all WCHA freshmen defensemen in scoring. With a 1997 birth date, Headrick, who hails from Garden River First Nation, is the youngest player in the entire WCHA.

The Lakers have been getting good goaltending from sophomore Gordon Defiel and freshman Nick Kossoff.

Defiel has a 4-6-3 record to go with a 2.57 goals against average and .922 save percentage. Kossoff has a 2-3-0 record with a 1.97 goals against average, .926 save percentage and two shutouts.

The two-game set against Michigan Tech marks the final action for the Lakers at Taffy Abel Arena during the 2015 calendar year. The Lakers resume their home schedule in the new year with back-to-back home series against Bowling Green on January 8-9 and Alaska-Anchorage on January 16-17.

PHOTO: Lake Superior State head coach Damon Whitten is in his second season as Lakers bench boss. (Photo by Ali Pearson.)

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