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Lakers can move up in standings during final stretch



Colin Nicholson

Feb. 10, 2004

SAULT STE. MARIE - The Lake Superior State hockey team finished 0-8 during its toughest stretch of the season, which included series against Ohio State, Providence, Michigan and Michigan State - all top-15 or honorable mention teams in this week's USA Today/American Hockey Magazine poll.

Now the Lakers (6-15-5 overall, 4-13-3 Central Collegiate Hockey Association) can breathe a bit easier. They play their last eight regular-season games against teams in the lower half of the CCHA standings.

Their final stretch begins Friday and Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at Bowling Green (8-14-7 overall, 6-11-4 CCHA). The games will air live on WSUE 101.3 FM and simulcast on www.lssulakers.com.

BGSU has moved up to 10th place in the CCHA standings after picking up three points on Feb. 6-7 at Nebraska-Omaha, and splitting with Michigan State and Alaska Fairbanks in January.

The Lakers, who have dropped back into sole possession of 12th place, finish out the season with games against Northern Michigan, Ferris State and Notre Dame, which are seventh, ninth and eighth, respectively, as of this week. LSSU is desperate to move out of the CCHA cellar for the first time since 1999-00 and can do so if it picks up where it left off at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday.

Lake Superior State had one of its best offensive games of the year in last Thursday's 8-5 loss to Michigan State, and played its best defensive game in Saturday's 2-1 loss to MSU at JLA. The Lakers need to put the whole package together in order to make a run during the final month of the regular season.

The final four weeks of the schedule should also work to LSSU's advantage due to the fact that the Lakers have one game in hand on Bowling Green, two games in hand on seven teams, three on Western Michigan and four on Alaska Fairbanks. LSSU and Michigan are the only two teams with eight CCHA games remaining on their schedules.

The one drawback is that five of Lake Superior State's last eight games are on the road. LSSU is 2-7-2 on the road this season.

The Lakers picked up three points in their home series with Bowling Green on Nov. 14-15. They won 4-2 on Friday, then skated to their first-ever scoreless tie on Saturday. Freshman Trent Campbell led LSSU scorers Friday with a goal and an assist, and rookie goaltender Jeff Jakaitis had 30 saves during his first career shutout the following night.

Jakaitis also had a season-high 45 saves against MSU on Saturday.

BGSU has played nine overtime games this season, and a school record seven have ended in ties. The Falcons have several players who are capable of scoring, including seniors Mark Wires (9-9-18), D'Arcy McConvey (6-12--18) and Kevin Bieksa (5-11-16), junior Steve Brudzewski (9-6-15), and sophomore Brett Pilkington (9-8-17).

LSSU is 2-8-1 at Bowling Green dating back to the 1994-95 season. The Lakers' last victory at BGSU was 1-0 on Jan. 30, 1998.

The Falcons will honor their 1984 NCAA Championship team during the first intermission of Friday's game. This team was the first CCHA representative to win a national title and still has the school's only NCAA Division I national championship.

LSSU junior forward and leading scorer Bo Cheesman (10-6-16) will sit out Friday's game at BGSU due to his game disqualification for fighting with MSU's Joe Markusen last Saturday.



Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey
 
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