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LSSU icers close regular season at Miami

Adrian Kremblewski

March 4, 2003

SAULT STE. MARIE - Wins have not come easily to the Lake Superior State hockey team, which closes its regular season Friday and Saturday in Oxford, Ohio, where it has not won since 1996.

As coach Frank Anzalone's second season with the Lakers nears an end, he and his players are sensing that the tide is turning - that the team is catching on to Anzalone's defensive-minded style and gaining confidence. The growth that Anzalone has seen during the last three to four weeks helped ease some of the sting of last Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss, during which Bowling Green scored the game-winning goal with nine seconds remaining in the extra period.

"I wanted that game to be a big stepping stone for our guys," said Anzalone, who didn't really expect a sweep following Friday's 2-0 win, but would have been thrilled with a three-point weekend. "I sincerely think that they tried. They had the right attitude. Saturday night they were ready to go, and that's all you can ask."

Sophomore goaltender Matt Violin totaled 31 saves Friday as Lake Superior State (6-24-4 overall, 3-22-1 Central Collegiate Hockey Association) shut out an opponent for the first time since Feb. 11, 2000. Violin has 804 saves this season and has moved up to ninth on LSSU's single-season saves chart (fourth in CCHA play). His save percentage of .912 ranks sixth on the single-season list.

"He will probably be one of the keynote guys in our success," Anzalone said. "When he gloves the puck and controls the rebound, he's as good if not the best goaltender in the league."

Two all-freshman lines have also improved steadily, and both include a defenseman. Jon Booras, who is fourth on the team in scoring, centers a line that includes B.J. Pelkey and former defenseman Steve McJannet. The rookie line of Nathan Ward, Adrian Kremblewski and former defenseman Alex Dunn scored three of the Lakers' four goals last weekend. Ward's line was a combined plus-nine for the weekend for the best plus/minus showing for a Laker line in CCHA play this season.

During LSSU's final home series, Anzalone was encouraged to hear the crowd react to good defensive plays and successful cycling of the puck, which is vintage Laker Hockey.

Now that Lake Superior State is making strides, another big step would be to win a road game for the first time this season. The Lakers are 0-13-2 on the road with the high points being a 4-4 tie at St. Lawrence and a 2-2 tie at Alaska Fairbanks. Violin combined for 100 saves in those two games.

Miami (18-15-3 overall, 11-12-3 CCHA) is in contention for home ice for the first round of the CCHA Playoffs. The RedHawks, who are tied for fifth in the league with Northern Michigan, Western Michigan and Notre Dame, must sweep the series to have a chance.

Every conference series, including Notre Dame at Northern Michigan, Michigan State v. Western Michigan, Ferris State at Bowling and Michigan at Ohio State, has important playoff implications. The Bulldogs currently hold a four-point lead over Michigan in the CCHA standings.

Miami senior goaltender David Burleigh became the RedHawks' all-time record holder for career saves when he made 30 stops in last Saturday's 1-1 tie at Alaska Fairbanks. Burleigh passed Mark Michaud's record of 2,856 saves.

Miami, which has not scored an even-strength goal since the first period of its first game against Sacred Heart on Feb. 21 (11 periods), is led in scoring by junior forwards Mike Kompon (16-25-41) and Greg Hogeboom (20-16-36).

The RedHawks are 3-4-1 in their last eight games, including splits with Michigan State and Ohio State, and last week's 2-1 loss and 1-1 tie at Alaska Fairbanks.

Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey
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