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Lakers face U.S. Under-18s in single exhibition game

Matt Restoule

Jan. 6, 2004

SAULT STE. MARIE - When the Lake Superior State hockey team and the U.S. National Team Developmental Program Under-18 squad skated to a 1-1 tie last year, LSSU coach Frank Anzalone called the exhibition a barometer for the Laker program, and he was frustrated with how far it still had to go.

This year, Team USA will face a Laker squad whose progress is beginning to manifest itself in more goals scored and more wins. LSSU (6-7-5) is coming off last weekend's hard-fought 3-3 tie and 2-1 victory at home against a hot Western Michigan team. The Lakers will wrap up a five-game Laker home stand when they play host to Team USA at 7:05 p.m. Friday at Taffy Abel Arena.

The U.S. Under-18s are 15-13-2 overall and 6-11-2 against collegiate teams. They are 2-10 against NCAA Division I opponents and 0-3 against Central Collegiate Hockey Association teams. LSSU was originally scheduled to be their first stop during a three-day tour through the Twin Saults. Saturday's game against the Soo Indians Junior A squad has been postponed until Feb. 13, but they will play the Soo (Ont.) Thunderbirds at 8 p.m. Saturday in Gaylord.

In CCHA exhibitions earlier this season, Team USA lost 8-3 to Northern Michigan, 4-0 to Notre Dame and 2-1 to Michigan State. The Under-18s are led in scoring by forwards Bryan Lerg (15-15-30, Livonia, Mich.), Brandon Scero (18-7-25, Canton, Mich.), Chad Kolarik (15-8-23, Abington, Pa.) and Tom Fritsche (8-12-20, Parma, Ohio).

Head coach John Hynes replaced Moe Mantha, who resigned on Oct. 28. Prior to his appointment, Hynes was assisting former USNTDP coach Mike Eaves at the University of Wisconsin. On Monday, Eaves led the U.S. to the gold medal at World Junior Championships in Helsinki, Finland.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for me and a significant step in my coaching career," Hynes told USA Hockey. "It is a truly unique position in the sport because it offers so many different experiences through a schedule that includes international, college and junior hockey competition. It really is a one-of-a-kind challenge that I'm looking forward to pursuing."

Hynes is assisted by two former Lakers: Ken Martel (LSSU '89) and Darrin Madeley (LSSU '92). Martel was a junior defenseman on LSSU's 1988 NCAA Championship team, while Madeley holds the Laker record for career wins (75) and was the winning goaltender in the 1992 NCAA Championship game.

LSSU has been powered by the Tim Krueckl-Nathan Ward-Bo Cheesman line along with junior goaltender Matt Violin, who was named CCHA Defensive Player of the Week after stopping 75-of-79 shots last weekend against Western Michigan.

The Lakers have also made the most of being the least-penalized team in the league. They have allowed opponents an average of only one power-play opportunity in their last four games.

"It is hard in this league to not take penalties," Anzalone said. "We have been doing that all year, so that is a real positive...We have to continue to stress puck pursuit and work ethic. We need to score some goals, and we need some of our younger guys to come into their own."

Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey
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