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Lakers to travel to Oxford, Ohio, for first round of CCHA Playoffs



Tim Krueckl

March 10, 2004

SAULT STE. MARIE - The least-penalized team in the nation will try to keep the Central Collegiate Hockey Association's most-potent power-play unit off the ice when the 11th-seeded Lakers play No. 2 seed Miami for the first round of the CCHA Playoffs.

The Lakers (9-18-7 overall, 7-16-5 CCHA) and RedHawks (20-12-4 overall, 17-8-3 CCHA) open the series at 7:35 p.m. Friday at Goggin Arena in Oxford, Ohio. The best-of-three series continues through Sunday, if necessary. All three games will be broadcast live on WSUE 101.3 FM and simulcast on www.lssulakers.com.

LSSU will face an angry RedHawks team, whose 5-4 loss at Ohio State last Saturday cost them the CCHA regular-season title. The championship was theirs for the taking after Michigan State took three of four points from Michigan last weekend, but the Wolverines escaped with the one-point lead.

For the first time since the 1999-00 season, Lake Superior State finished higher than 12th place in the regular-season standings. As much as the Lakers didn't want to make the 12-hour trip to Oxford, Ohio, they are thankful to not have to play at Michigan's Yost Arena.

Miami was Lake Superior State's first conference opponent of the season. The Lakers got an early taste of how powerful the RedHawks' power play can be in a 5-2 loss on Oct. 24. They came back from a 2-0 deficit with five unanswered goals and was 4-for-5 on the power play. The RedHawks also scored one power play goal in a 2-1 victory over LSSU on Oct. 25.

The RedHawks' .223 power-play conversion rate leads the CCHA. They average 1.25 power-play goals per game. Miami freshman forward Matt Christie and sophomore forward Chris Michael have combined for 15 power-play goals this season.

LSSU can counter that by staying out of the penalty box. The Lakers average only 8.8 penalty minutes per game, which is the lowest average in the nation.

Lake Superior State has an all-time record of 4-0 against Miami in the CCHA Playoffs. LSSU and Miami last met in the playoffs in 1995 when the fourth-seeded Lakers defeated fifth-seed Miami 5-2 in a play-in game. The series also includes a 3-0 victory in the championship game of the 1993 tournament, and a 5-3, 7-4 sweep in the first round of the 1990 tournament.

However, the Lakers are 0-7-1 in Oxford, Ohio, dating back to March 2, 1996.

Senior forwards Derek Edwardson (17-26-43), Mike Kompon (12-30-42) and Greg Hogeboom (17-22-39) lead Miami in scoring. Freshman goaltender Brandon Crawford-West (18-6-3) has a 2.68 goals-against average and .897 save percentage in 28 games.

Freshman forward Dominic Osman (10-9-19) and junior forward Bo Cheesman (11-7-18) lead LSSU in scoring. Freshman goaltender Jeff Jakaitis (5-8-4) has taken over as the Lakers' No. 1 goaltender. He ranks first in the league in overall goals against with an average of 2.02, and ranks second in CCHA goals against at 1.96. He has an overall save percentage of .935 and has recorded three shutouts this season.

Jakaitis also ranks seventh nationally in goals against and second among freshmen goaltenders. Cornell's David McKee is ranked second nationally and first among freshmen at 1.68.

Note: Lake Superior State senior forward Tim Krueckl received special mention on the CCHA All-Academic Team. For the first time since the award's inception in 1988-89, 10 players representing eight schools were named to the first team. The award is voted upon by the league's faculty representatives. The six players with the most votes are selected. Ties are not broken.

Krueckl, a transfer from Iona College, maintains a 3.7 grade point average while majoring in finance.

The first team includes Western Michigan's Paul Davies and Dana Lattery, Miami's Derek Edwardson and Kompon, Notre Dame's Rob Globke, Ohio State's Nate Guenin, Alaska Fairbanks' Tom Herman, Bowling Green's D'Arcy McConvery, Ferris State's Derrick McIver and Nebraska-Omaha's Andrew Wong.



Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey
 
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