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Lakers return to Omaha for first round of CCHA Playoffs



Alex Dunn

March 8, 2005

SAULT STE. MARIE - No. 9 seed Lake Superior State and No. 4 seed Nebraska-Omaha will break in the two-year-old Qwest Center venue with its first-ever post-season games when the teams meet this weekend in the first round of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association Playoffs.

LSSU (9-20-7 overall, 8-14-6 CCHA) was 1-2-1 against the Mavericks (17-15-4 overall, 13-11-4) during the regular season. UNO, picked to finish 12th in the standings after finishing 12th last year, is the turn-around team of the year.

UNO has never faced a team seven times in the same season, but that possibility now exists if a Game 3 is necessary against LSSU. The best-of-three series begins Friday in Omaha. All three games will begin at 7:05 p.m. CST.

The Lakers split a series in Omaha early in the season, winning 5-2 on Dec. 9 and losing 5-1 on Dec. 11. The Mavericks won the first game of a Feb. 18-19 series in Sault Ste. Marie, 5-2, and came back from a two-goal deficit to tie the second game, 3-3, in overtime.

UNO was the first team to score in both games played in Omaha, and LSSU struck first in both games played in Sault Ste. Marie.

LSSU junior forward Alex Dunn has four goals and two assists against the Mavs this season. Dunn played defense in the Lakers' series in Omaha when he had two goals and two assists, including one short-handed marker. Junior forwards Jon Booras and Nathan Ward have two goals each against UNO, while 12 other players have at least a point.

Nebraska-Omaha's ability to earn home ice for the playoffs is due to the success of sophomore forward Scott Parse (16-22--38), and freshman forwards Bill Thomas (13-20--33) and Bryan Marshall (11-16--27). The threesome is ranked second, sixth and 15th in the CCHA in scoring, respectively. Parse and Thomas are former junior hockey linemates who reunited this season.

LSSU is seeded two spots higher than it was in 2003-04, and three spots higher than in 2002-03 and 2001-02.

"Ninth is were we are, and we have to go from there," LSSU coach Frank Anzalone said. "I thought we could get eighth. I thought we could sweep Northern Michigan (last weekend)...We lost eight games we probably should have won, tied or something. That hurt us. This year we went a little bit off the track in those games we should have won."

The Lakers are winless in their last three games, but 2-3-3 in their last eight road games.



Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey
 
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