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Hockey team treks to Fairbanks, Alaska
Jan. 16, 2003
SAULT STE. MARIE - Lake Superior State hockey coach Frank Anzalone expects to face an Alaska Fairbanks hockey team bent on making up for last weekend's losses when the Lakers play the Nanooks in Fairbanks on Friday and Saturday.
"They'll come at us really hard - really hard early," Anzalone said. "They've got depth and speed. We're playing on an Olympic ice sheet. They won't give us any room to breathe."
Lake Superior State (4-15-3 overall, 1-13-0 in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association) leaves Wednesday at 9 a.m. for the 20-hour journey to Fairbanks. Both games begin at 11:05 p.m. EST and will be aired live via a feed on WSOO 1230-AM and lssulakers.com.
The Nanooks (8-9-3 overall, 5-8-3 CCHA) ended a six-game unbeaten streak when they lost 5-2 and 6-2 at Michigan State last weekend.
Anzalone said MSU wasn't in the game Friday until Spartan defenseman John Michael-Liles tied it 1-1 at 18:54 of the first period with his potent wrist shot. The explosive Spartans dominated once they found an opening.
UAF might not be as explosive as MSU, but the Nanooks have had success against two of the top teams in the league. Earlier this season, they tied Ohio State and Miami, and swept Nebraska-Omaha and Notre Dame.
Anzalone's main objective is to get his team to and from Alaska safely. To get there, the Lakers will bus to Detroit, and make plane stops in Minneapolis and Anchorage. Fairbanks has approximately five and one-half hours of daylight at this time of year.
"Hopefully we won't have any delays, we'll get there safely, get home safely and play well enough to give ourselves a chance to win," said Anzalone, who is making his first trip to Alaska.
The Lakers will have little time to recover from the trip. They play host to Michigan on Thursday, Jan. 23.
Last weekend LSSU tied Canisius 2-2 and 4-4 for its first back-to-back ties since the 1996-97 season. The Golden Griffins took advantage of Laker defensive lapses and penalties to come from behind in both games.
"We are still not defensively sound," said Anzalone, who is concerned that his young defensemen have "leveled off" after getting off to a decent start considering only two are returning players. "Canisius' top seniors and juniors scored when they had to..It's too bad we got the tie, but we are fortunate that we didn't lose...Canisius did a great job. The local kids they had (Fred Coccimiglio and Ryan Corcoran of Sault, Ont.) did a great job."
The bright spots of last weekend were the Lakers' power-play success and Kyle Anderson's continued hot streak.
After going 10 games without a power-play goal, LSSU has scored a power-play goal in five of its last six games. The Lakers were 3-for-5 with the extra man Saturday.
"You have to give credit to some of the players on the power play," Anzalone said. "Jon Booras with Colin Nicholson - Booras is not a power-play guy. Ryan Branham and Kory Scoran did a really good job. Branham got the puck down to Bo Cheesman for a goal."
Anderson scored four goals during his first two seasons at LSSU and didn't have a point this season until he scored a goal against Michigan State on Jan. 3. Since then he hasn't let up. He has four goals in the Lakers' last four games.
"Kyle and Bo are examples of what we're trying to do with ordinary players," Anzalone said. "They have really tried to study the game from my mindset. Kyle is a big, strong guy, and he should be able to cause havoc in the crease."
The Nanooks, whose roster includes three seniors and nine juniors, are led in scoring by sophomore forward Jared Sylvestre (8-10-18), junior forward Ryan Campbell (9-8-17), senior forward Blaine Bablitz (9-6-15) and sophomore forward Jason Grinevitch (5-7-12). Bablitz has five power-play goals this season.
UAF's top goaltender, junior Preston McKay, is 5-7-1 with a 3.85 goals-against average and .883 save percentage. Senior Lance Mayes is 3-2-2 with a 3.10 gaa and .907 save percentage.
Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey