March 7, 2006
By LINDA BOUVET, LSSU Sports Information Director
The largest senior class in the 40-year history of Laker Hockey recently played its final game in Taffy Abel Arena and will be departing Lake Superior State this spring after devoting the last four years to rebuilding the program's winning tradition.
LSSU's captain, Steve McJannet, described the feeling heading into the final week of the regular season as bittersweet. As happy as he was to see things turn around and know he's played a role in the program's resurgence, he regrets that he can't hang around and enjoy what he expects to be more winning seasons ahead.
"It's been a great feeling all year," he said. "Coming to the rink, it's a different place. It's sweet to know that I'm getting my degree, but I'm a little bit bitter and want to play another three years...When we came, we were in a hole that we didn't dig. It's like a big pot hole, and we helped fill it up."
"We're almost out," noted senior Alex Dunn, who was back in the lineup after missing 10 games with a shoulder injury. "To see where we came from, from four to six wins our first year to 15 wins now. We want to see how (the program) progresses, see if we taught the guys well. We want to see where the guys are going to go next season."
The 12 seniors, who were all in the lineup for the Lakers' final regular-season home game against Michigan State, deviated a bit from Senior Night Tradition and came out as a group. It was a fitting end for the Class of 2006, as their trademark throughout the last four years has been their close bond. They had the common goal of wanting to put Laker Hockey back on the map, and they were committed to getting through the tough times with solidarity.
During the seniors' first year at LSSU, Laker Hockey had its most-difficult season on record, totaling only six wins - and only three occurred in CCHA play.
"There were so many stories from Brady Hall," senior goaltender Willie Ciccone remembers of his teammates' freshman year dorm invasion. "We dominated an entire hall with 15 guys. It was great living with so many players right next door."
There were 15 freshmen on the team that year, and almost all of them returned the following year. Almost all of them stayed true to the course.
"It's awesome to have a group of guys that size to go through the four years with," senior Colin Nicholson said. "We've experienced a lot of positive and negative moments, but they're all experiences that just our group can relate to and laugh about down the road. We've become good friends over the four years, and have a lot of memories to walk away with. This group was like one big family, and it was so much fun to be a part of it."
Since they were rookies, each Laker Hockey season has gotten a little bit better, and the seniors will leave a legacy of hard work and loyalty. They will have the satisfaction of knowing the program is starting to live up to the expectations of Sault Ste. Marie's great hockey community. The seniors sincerely hope they have led by example, and they somewhat regret that the reward that they have worked so hard to reap will be enjoyed for what seems like a fleeting moment. But there have been rewards. This year's team has 15 wins - the most by any Laker hockey team in six seasons. The Lakers climbed back into the national rankings, and were one of the top 10 defensive teams in the nation throughout the season. This year has been successful, but the seniors hope that the best is yet to come for Laker Hockey.
"We always knew we could do it," senior BJ Pelkey said. "We always knew it was there. It has finally come to light. I remember the freshmen telling me when they first got here that they thought we were a middle-of-the-road team and that they'd step in a get lots of ice time. And during the first week of practice, they said they couldn't believe how these guys aren't in the top of the league --the way they practice, the way they work at it. It was a big pat on the back."
"My favorite part of this year is just being a part of the team that put LSSU athletics, and mainly Laker Hockey back into prominence, and especially the realization that my teammates and myself have gone through a lot in the past couple years," senior Mark Adamek said. "We sure tried to bring the pride back."
"This season has been the highlight of my four years," Nicholson said. "It's been a ton of fun. Having the success we've had this year has made me believe that the hard work from the three previous seasons has finally paid off."
"We have been together for four years, and now we are all going our separate ways," senior Kory Scoran said. "I wish the best for them, and will hopefully see them again. They are just an unbelievable group of guys - the best team I have ever been a part of."
THE CLASS OF 2006
#22, Mark Adamek
Mark Adamek, from Hollister, Calif., is one of four senior defensemen on this year's Laker hockey team, which has been ranked among the top 10 nationally in goals-allowed throughout the season...He has 14 assists in 120 games during his Laker Hockey career...As a junior he had the team's second-best plus/minus rating among defensemen, and as a sophomore he was one of the Lakers' most disciplined players - totaling only six penalty minutes in 35 games...He is the younger of the two Adamek siblings.
#12, Mike Adamek
The elder of the two Adamek siblings, this senior forward has battled his way back into the lineup on more than one occasion. As a sophomore he missed several games due to an emergency appendectomy and went on to share the team's Most-Improved Player Award. This season, after sitting out most of the first semester, he scored the game-winning goal in his first appearance, a 2-1 victory over Bemidji State in December. He went on to score a goal four of his first five games...He has 10 goals and 20 assists in 93 games as a Laker.
#27, Jon Booras
This senior forward and assistant captain will be remembered for wowing the crowd with his skating ability in front of the net and scoring a few of the most-exciting goals during the senior's era...He led the Lakers in goals as a freshman and was named the team's Freshman of the Year in 2003...He also led the team in scoring as a junior, and came on strong during the Lakers' final stretch of this season. He has 23 goals and 28 assists through 135 games at LSSU...This native of Billings, Mont., comes from a very athletic family that includes NHL standout Andy Moog...The highlight of his collegiate career was the Lakers' 4-3 overtime victory over Michigan at Yost Arena on Feb. 10, 2006.
#30, Will Ciccone
A native of Timmons, Ont., LSSU's senior goaltender willingly took on the role of playing his entire collegiate career as a back-up netminder, and he served as a great inspiration to his teammates whenever he took the ice wearing Laker Blue and Gold...This mechanical engineering major has maintained a 3.36 grade point average while playing a Division I sport. He earned Laker Hockey scholar-athlete awards as a freshman and sophomore...The highlight of his career was his first career start this season against York at the Lakehead Tournament.
#7, Alex Dunn
One of two seniors who have played both forward and defense for the Lakers, this versatile player doubled his point total from his freshman to sophomore year, and he increased his scoring as a junior despite playing half the season on the blue line...The Waterford, Mich., native just got back into the lineup this season after missing 10 games with a shoulder injury, and he made an immediate impact, drawing an assist on his first shift against Northern Michigan...This senior understands the meaning of giving back. He spends a week every summer at Petoskey's Camp Quality, helping kids with cancer forget about their disease for a week...He has 16 goals and 13 assists in 124 games as a Laker...One of his career highlights is scoring a goal against Michigan in a game at Joe Louis Arena.
#9, Ren Fauci
While teammed with senior Kory Scoran to form one of the toughest defensive pairings in the CCHA, this Winnipeg, Man., is a two-time winner of LSSU's Most-Valuable Defenseman Award...Fauci has seven goals and 23 assists in 133 games as a Laker...As a senior, Fauci has a +2 rating while taking on the opposing teams' toughest players on a regular basis...He shares the school record for most goals in a game by a defenseman with two goals in a 6-3 loss to Notre Dame on Feb. 22, 2003...The highlight of his career was playing in his first collegiate game.
#29, Eric Hill
Hill was the first Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., native to wear a Laker sweater in a game since 1993...The Sault's former youth hockey coach decided he wasn't ready to give up his playing career and walked on to the team as a junior...He has appeared in five games during the past two seasons, and had an outstanding performances as a forward in the Lakers' regular-season home finale against Michigan State...He shared LSSU's Most-Improved Player Award with B.J. Pelkey in 2004-05.
#19, Steve McJannet
LSSU's captain is a two-time nominee for the CCHA's Flanagan (Courageous Athlete) Award for achieving success in Division I hockey despite suffering from Crohn's Disease... McJannet, from Kanata, Ont., has played both forward and defense for the Lakers...This season, he has two game-winning goals, a +5 rating and is tied for first on the team in penalty minutes with 54...For his career, McJannet has 15 goals and 26 assists in 133 contests...He was named LSSU's Most-Improved Player as a freshman, and he served as a tri-captain as a junior...The highlights of his career were scoring his first collegiate goal in a 2-2 tie at Alaska Fairbanks on Jan. 17, 2003, and ending the Lakers' 10-game losing streak against Michigan by scoring the game-winner in overtime on Feb. 10, 2006.
#17, Colin Nicholson
This Dartmouth, N.S., native has scored two short-handed goals and two game-winners for the Lakers this season...Nicholson came on strong at the end of the junior campaign, scoring a goal in three of the Lakers' last four games. He has also played well in the latter stretches of 2005-06...Usually paired with captain Steve McJannet, Nicholson has nine goals and six assists this season, including three points in the Lakers' home sweep against Bowling Green...For his career, he has 25 goals and 22 assists in 116 games...He is an avid golfer and hopes to continue his hockey career.
#20, BJ Pelkey
Pelkey, a St. Andrews West, Ont., native, has contributed as a grinder for the Lakers and has had great performances in some of the Lakers' biggest games of the last four years...He scored his first career goal in a 5-4 overtime loss to Bemidji State on Dec. 3, 2004, and tallied his second career goal the following night...Pelkey is a standout student with a 2.912 GPA while majoring in environmental management...The highlight of his career is playing at Joe Louis Arena.
#2, Kory Scoran
The other half of LSSU's outstanding blue line tandem, Scoran has led Laker defensemen in scoring the last three seasons...The Winnipeg, Man., native was named USCHO.com and CCHA Blueliner of the Week in February, 2004, and repeated CCHA Defenseman of the Week in January, 2006...He scored his first two short-handed goals this season and is among the team's plus/minus leaders at +3...Scoran has a career total of 15 goals and 25 assists through 140 games...He has been paired with senior Ren Fauci throughout this season, and the twosome has shut down several standout opponents, including CCHA No. 2 scorer Alex Foster and No. 5 scorer Jonathan Matsumoto of Bowling Green...The highlight of his career is playing at Joe Louis Arena.
#14, Nathan Ward
The top scorer of the Class of 2006, Nathan Ward has 28 goals and 36 assists, and three game-winning goals in 147 career games...The Edmonton, Alta., native has been a quiet leader, serving as an assistant captain in 2003-04, a tri-captain in 2004-05 and an assistant captain in 2005-06...This season, he centered the Lakers' top line, which included junior Trent Campbell and senior Jon Booras...Ward considers the highlight of his collegiate career to be helping the Lakers achieve a national ranking this season...Last season, he shared LSSU's Most-Valuable Player Award with junior goaltender Jeff Jakaitis.