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Lakers begin home-and-home series v. NMU at Taffy Abel Arena

Jeff Rainville

Feb. 14, 2006

SAULT STE. MARIE - If Lake Superior State's hockey season is to be judged by the last four weeks of the regular season, then it is doing fairly well so far. The Lakers made it through two difficult weeks on the road with a 1-2-1 record, including a split at eighth-ranked Michigan. Three of their last four regular-season games are either at home or on neutral ice, beginning with Friday's home game against Northern Michigan.

Ninteenth-ranked LSSU (17-11-4 overall, 11-9-4 Central Collegiate Hockey Association) and Northern Michigan (16-14-2 overall, 10-12-2 CCHA) begin a home-and-home series at 7:35 p.m. Friday at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie. The teams wrap up the CCHA cluster and Cappo Cup series at 7:35 p.m. Saturday at the Berry Events Center in Marquette.

The Upper Peninsula rivalry will be featured on an upcoming episode of CCHA Digest, and a FSN Detroit camera crew will be coming up to the area to shoot exclusive video of both teams. The coverage of LSSU will include a "Day in the Life Of" feature on Laker senior captain Steve McJannet and his teammates.

LSSU, fresh from snapping a 10-game losing streak against Michigan, will try to end a five-game losing skid against NMU. The Wildcats defeated the Lakers 3-1 and 2-1 during an October home-and-home series. LSSU out-shot NMU in those two contests, 53-46, but finished 0-for-16 on the power play.

The more-telling tale in this weekend's series could be the first period of either game. Both teams have had a tendency to give up early first-period goals.

LSSU and Michigan combined to score nine first-period goals in last weekend's series, with the Wolverines outscoring the Lakers, 6-3. LSSU has given up a goal during the opening five minutes of play in three out of its last six road games and is 0-2-1 in those contests.

Nebraska-Omaha swept NMU 2-1 and 8-3 in Marquette last weekend. The Mavs outscored the Wildcats 2-0 in the first period of both games. In Game 2 of the series, UNO scored four goals on its first eight shots.

LSSU and UNO are currently tied for fourth place in the CCHA standings and are only three points behind second-place Michigan, which travels to Omaha this weekend. Third-place Michigan State plays host to league leader Miami and ends the regular season with two games against Lake Superior State. So, none of the top five teams have it easy heading into the season's final stretch.

Ferris State, NMU and Ohio State round out the top eight, and those teams are no more than six points behind the Lakers and Mavs, and all three teams have a shot at a top-four finish. LSSU still has some work to do, but the Lakers are closing in on their first opportunity to host a CCHA Playoff series since 1999-00.

The top four teams in the CCHA regular-season standings will receive a first-round bye in the playoffs, while the fifth through eighth-place teams will play host to teams in ninth through 12th place. During the second round, the top four teams will play host to the remaining four teams. LSSU is a team aching to get to the Joe, and it doesn't really care what route it takes to get there.

The Norris Center Ticket Office staff wants to remind all season-ticket holders and LSSU students with the sports pass that they will have to purchase playoff tickets if the Lakers have an opportunity to host a series. If the Lakers are hosting a CCHA Playoff series, ticket prices will be as follows:

Adults: $10 per game
LSSU students: $3 per game
Non-LSSU students: $5.50 per game

Fans are encouraged to purchase their tickets during regular-business hours prior to game day. Season-tickets holders will have an opportunity to claim their seats through Thursday the week of the series.

Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey
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