As the Western Collegiate Hockey Association has unveiled its schedule for the 2015-2016 season, the Lake Superior State University Lakers will begin their second term under the direction of head coach Damon Whitten.
The Lakers will open play the weekend of Oct. 3-4 with a pair of exhibition matchups. On Saturday, Oct. 3, the Lakers begin with a Blue vs. Gold intra-squad tune-up contest. Closing out the first weekend of college hockey will be another exhibition contest on Sunday evening and against the U.S. National Team Development Program Under-18 team.
The following weekend the Lakers travel to Portland, Maine, to face off in the 19th annual Ice Breaker Tournament. The University of Maine, as hosts, will also take part in the early season non-conference tournament, which brings together four teams from around the nation and from the top conferences in college hockey.
A pair of non-conference matchups awaits the Lakers following the Ice Breaker Tournament. First, a non-conference home-and-home series with Upper Peninsula rival Northern Michigan kicks off on Oct. 16 with the Lakers traveling to Marquette. The teams then bus the 164 miles back to Sault Ste. Marie for a rematch on Saturday evening at Taffy Abel Arena. Saturday night’s matchup will be the marquee event of the 2015 Great Lake State Weekend.
The other October non-conference series will be at former Central Collegiate Hockey Association counterpart Michigan State, now of the Big Ten Conference. The Lakers and Spartans square off in a non-traditional Thursday and Friday series Oct. 22-23.
The Lakers close the month of October with a WCHA series at home against Alabama-Huntsville on Oct. 30-31. The Lakers and Chargers both finished with 15 points in the WCHA standings last season and were the eighth and seventh seeds in the WCHA tournament, respectively.
The Lakers begin a post Halloween marathon by playing six straight series, rotating home and away, from November until the holiday break in December. The Lakers will travel to Bowling Green Nov. 6-7 for a WCHA matchup before returning home Nov. 13-14 for a non-conference series against the up-start Arizona State Sun Devils, who are participating in a hybrid Div. I schedule.
Nov. 20-21 the Lakers travel to Bemidji State to face the Beavers. They return home to face long-time rival Ferris State in a Thanksgiving weekend series (Nov. 27-28) at Taffy Abel Arena. The Lakers finish their busy first half of the season with a series at Alaska Dec. 4-5 and a return trip to Taffy Abel to match up with the Michigan Tech Huskies Dec. 11-12.
The Lakers will enjoy a much needed break for the holidays before making another trip to the Northeast for the Catamount Cup holiday tournament hosted by Vermont on Dec. 29-30. Brown, Colgate and host Vermont are other teams in the tournament, but the first-round pairings have not yet been determined. The Lakers have competed twice during the 18-year history of the Catamount Cup, winning the championship in 2001 and finishing second to RIT in 2011.
The Lakers open the second half of the schedule with a pair of WCHA home series against Bowling Green Jan. 8-9, and Alaska Anchorage Jan. 16-17 for a Saturday night and Sunday afternoon series. A road series against Minnesota State, following the home stand against the Falcons and Seawolves, is all that will remain for the Lakers for the month of January. The Lakers are 0-8 all-time against the Mavericks and will be looking for their first ever win in the season’s only series between the two teams.
February kicks off with the Lakers traveling to Houghton Feb. 5-6 to face MTU for the second time. The Lakers return home to host Bemidji State Feb. 12-13. The 2014-15 home series against the Beavers was the Lakers’ lone sweep last season.
Another road trip to Alaska, this time in Anchorage, awaits the Lakers Feb 19-20. The Lakers play their final 2015-16 home series Jan. 26-27 against the Northern Michigan Wildcats. The January LSSU-NMU series will count in the WCHA standings.
The regular season concludes with a road trip to Big Rapids, where the Lakers face the Bulldogs for the second time. The series is set for Mar. 4-5 and will mark the third consecutive WCHA season that the Bulldogs and Lakers will close the regular season with a matchup against each other.