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Laker hockey team returns home to face Ohio State

UAF's Troy Newton and LSSU's Ren Fauci (9) in a scrum

Feb. 1, 2005

SAULT STE. MARIE - The special teams masters of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association will be invading Sault Ste. Marie when the eighth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes take on Lake Superior State, which is returning home after playing back-to-back road series at Michigan State and Alaska Fairbanks.

OSU and LSSU will face off at 7:35 p.m. and 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Taffy Abel Arena. On Friday, LSSU students with a valid I.D. will receive free admission in celebration of the school's annual winter carnival. The CCHA's Mason Cup caravan will also be visiting Sault Ste. Marie on Friday. The league's third annual "Road to the Joe" tour will include a CCHA Super 6 promotional display, the Mason Cup Playoff Championship trophy, Super 6 poster and t-shirt give-aways, and an enter-to-win contest for a one-night stay at the Detroit Marriot Renaissance Center and two tickets to all three days of Superior 6 competition at Joe Louis Arena in March.

The Buckeyes (18-7-3 overall, 15-4-1 CCHA) may be the most-penalized team in the CCHA, but they have been thriving due to their special teams skills. Last weekend, Western Michigan came into its series with OSU ranked first in the league on the power play, but was shut out on all 10 man-advantage opportunities.

Ohio State is killing penalties at a league-best clip of 88.2 percent, and its power play is ranked sixth in the nation and No. 1 in the CCHA at 22.7 percent. The Buckeyes have scored on 11 of their last 24 power-play chances in their last four games. Matt Beaudoin is ranked first in the CCHA in power-play goals with 10.

LSSU (7-13-6 overall, 6-7-5 CCHA) is still struggling with a power play that hasn't scored a goal in 11 games, but the Lakers are holding their own when killing penalties. They are ranked second in the league in average penalty minutes per game (16.0) and fourth in penalty killing (82.9 percent).

The Lakers also held their own during a two-week stretch of road games that included a six-day trip to Alaska Fairbanks. They have recorded three straight ties to remain in a four-way tie for sixth place with Miami, Michigan State and UAF.

"We played very well defensively on Friday," LSSU coach Frank Anzalone said of the Lakers' 2-2 tie with UAF. "We did what we had to do to hang in there. We had a lot of chances to score at the end. We were worried that they would come back stronger on Saturday, but we played well again. Taking two points on the road, whether it's a win or two ties, is a pretty good job...Now we have to find a way to play well against Ohio State."

LSSU leads the CCHA in overtime games and has an overtime record of 2-6-1. Six of the Lakers' last eight games have gone into overtime. Sandwiched between two sets of three straight OT contests were two 60-minute affairs, which LSSU lost by a combined score of 13-0.

LSSU is playing an upper-tier team in the CCHA standings for the first time since its Dec. 9-11 series at Nebraska-Omaha. Ohio State, which has an impressive road record of 6-4-2, is the only team in the league that out-weighs the Lakers on paper. The Buckeyes check in at an average height and weight of 6-0, 196 pounds and have a roster that boasts 15 players who weigh 200 pounds or more. LSSU averages 6-1, 193 pounds.

LSSU will have a full lineup available for the first time since October. Sophomore Barnabas Birkeland was cleared to practice this week after recovering from knee surgery. Laker coach Frank Anzalone has been without five of his nine defensemen at various times this season, and all five of those players were veterans.

UAF photo courtesy of Paul McCarty.

Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey
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