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Lakers remain focused on goal of getting out of 12th place

Jon Booras

Feb. 17, 2004

SAULT STE. MARIE - The Lake Superior State hockey team hoped to pick up a bit more than one more point during last weekend's Central Collegiate Hockey Association series at Bowling Green, but the Lakers still aren't wavering from their goal of moving up in the league standings after finishing 12th for three straight years.

Heading into this weekend's home-and-home series against Northern Michigan, the Lakers (6-16-6 overall, 4-14-4 CCHA) are tied for 11th place with Nebraska-Omaha. They have 12 points, which is the most they have earned since they totaled 16 points in 2000-01.

While Michigan, Miami and Michigan State are fighting it out for the CCHA regular-season title, several teams are still in contention to earn home ice for the first round of the playoffs. Ferris State and BGSU are tied for ninth place with 19 points each, but are only six points out of sixth place. The Bulldogs are off this weekend, and play host to LSSU on Feb. 27-28. The Falcons have two tough games at Michigan this weekend, while UNO heads to Michigan State.

The Lakers and eighth-place Wildcats (16-12-2 overall, 11-11-0 CCHA) play at 7:35 p.m. Friday at the Berry Events Center in Marquette, then close out the four-game Cappo Cup series at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie. Both games will be broadcast live on WSUE 101.3 FM and simulcast on The Norris Center Ticket Office will open at 4 p.m. Saturday.

The regular season is winding down for LSSU, whose only remaining home games are March 5-6 against Notre Dame.

The early-season series with the Wildcats was especially frustrating for the Lakers, who out-shot NMU in both games but came out on the losing side of two 3-0 shutouts. LSSU out-shot Northern Michigan 62-43 for the weekend, but was 0-for-10 on the power play.

The Lakers were 0-for-11 on the power play last weekend at Bowling Green and are definitely struggling with confidence in that aspect of the game, which is led by LSSU's youngest players. They had a chance to tie Friday's game when they went on a power play during the final 1:50 of the third period. They had some good scoring chances for the first 60 seconds. But when they pulled goaltender Jeff Jakaitis in favor on an extra attacker with 23 seconds to go, they struggled to get the puck into BGSU's zone.

On Saturday, Jakaitis totaled 31 saves in a 0-0 tie, which was his second career shutout. Jakaitis was also in goal when the Lakers and Falcons skated to a scoreless tie in November. Those are the only two 0-0 ties in LSSU history.

NMU freshman forward Darin Olver compiled three goals and an assist to account for most of the Wildcats' scoring during the December series. Alex Sawruk of Sault Ste. Marie, who will be making his last collegiate appearance in Taffy Abel Arena, scored a goal in Friday's game and notched an assist on Saturday.

Northern Michigan leads the all-time series, 42-21-6. LSSU's last victory over the Wildcats was 4-2 on Feb. 15, 2003, in Sault Ste. Marie. The win broke a nine-game losing streak against NMU.

Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey
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