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Lakers close out hockey regular-season against 14th-ranked NMU

Matt Violin

March 1, 2005

SAULT STE. MARIE - Lake Superior State seniors Bo Cheesman, Ryan Reid and Matt Violin will be honored Saturday when the Lakers play their final regular-season hockey game at home against 14th-ranked Northern Michigan.

Game 1 of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association series is slated for 7:35 p.m. Friday at the Berry Events Center in Marquette. Game 2 is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie, although the game will be pushed back to 7:35 p.m. if LSSU is playing host to the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Tournament semifinals and finals.

The Lakers (9-18-7 overall, 8-12-6 CCHA) have had small senior classes each of the last three years, but every group has brought the LSSU program a little bit closer to where it would like to be in Division I college hockey. This year's team has endured a few heart-wrenching losses this season, but is assured of at least a ninth-place finish in the CCHA standings - two spots higher than in 2003-04.

The Lakers are also one of three teams still in the hunt for home ice for the first round of the CCHA Playoffs. Mathematically they have a chance, but they would have to sweep NMU, have Ohio State sweep Miami and last-place Notre Dame take two from Michigan State.

One of LSSU's heart-breakers occurred last weekend at Western Michigan, where the Lakers defeated the Broncos 3-2 on Friday, but let a two-goal lead slip away in a 3-2 overtime loss on Saturday. The Lakers are 6-4-3 in Game 1 of CCHA series play, but their record in Game 2 is a frustrating 2-8-3.

LSSU is 3-3-1 against Northern Michigan (18-9-7 overall, 15-7-4 CCHA) since ending a nine-game losing streak against the Wildcats. Earlier this season, Nathan Ward, Kory Scoran and Matt Restoule scored goals in the Lakers' 3-1 win on home ice Nov. 26. NMU came back with a 3-0 victory in the rematch on Nov. 27. While that series was held during Thanksgiving recess, this weekend's games will be played while LSSU students are away on spring break.

Regardless of whether the Lakers are in the hunt for home ice in the playoffs, they want to head into the playoffs knowing they can take any opponent to the wire. They have been outscored 41-16 in the third period this season and are 7-3-4 in games in which they have led after two periods.

NMU, which is 4-0-2 in its last six games, has sewn up third place in the CCHA. The Wildcats are led by two candidates for the Hobey Baker Award - senior goaltender Tuomas Tarkki and junior defenseman Nathan Oystrick. With more than 18,000 votes cast online through Feb. 27, Bowling Green's Jordan Sigalet leads the Hobey Baker top-10 list with 60,400 points. Tarkki is second with 59,970 points, while Oystrick is fifth with 28,484.

Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey
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