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It's hockey time!

Jeff Jakaitis

Oct. 4, 2005

SAULT STE. MARIE - Lake Superior State's largest senior class in school history will take to the ice for the first time this season when the Lakers play host to York and the U.S. Under-18 Team in exhibition games this weekend.

The Lakers, under new head coach Jim Roque, play host to York at 7:35 p.m. on Friday, and the U.S. Under-18s at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday at Taffy Abel Arena. Both games will be broadcast live on Rock 101. Friday's contest is part of a volleyball/hockey double header. The volleyball match against Hillsdale has been moved up to 4:45 p.m.

Roque is the second former Laker player to head the program. The long-time assistant coach, who replaced Frank Anzalone in July, played at LSSU from 1983-87. The first former Laker to become a head coach was Rick Comley in 1973-74. He played for the Lakers from 1967-71 and is now the head coach at Michigan State.

Roque takes over a program that has steadily improved since finishing last in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association for three straight years. LSSU finished 11th in the CCHA two years ago and moved up to ninth last season.

This season, LSSU will be led by a 12-man senior class that has become tight-knit during the long rebuilding process. Senior Steve McJannet will serve as captain, while fellow seniors Jon Booras, Nathan Ward and Ren Fauci will be assistant captains.

Booras was the Lakers' top scorer in 2004-05 with 10 goals and 10 assists, followed by Ward (9-8-17), junior Matt Restoule (7-9-16), junior Trent Campbell (6-10-16) and senior Colin Nicholson (7-7-14). Nine of LSSU's top 10 scorers return. The Lakers graduated only nine percent of their overall scoring from last season. Junior Dominic Osman returns to the lineup after missing 26 games last season due to a back injury. Osman was the Lakers' leading scorer as a freshman in 2003-04.

The Lakers expect to be solid defensively as seven out of eight defensemen return along with junior goaltender Jeff Jakaitis, who has a career save percentage of .923 and is on track to become LSSU's all-time leader in that category. Jakaitis was ranked sixth in the CCHA in overall goals-against (2.88) and tied for third in save percentage (.917) last season.

The Lakers will be meeting York for the first time since the 1992-93 season and have an all-time record of 3-1 against the Lions. LSSU defeated York 8-3 that year, and also picked up a win in 1973-74 and a split in 1974-75.

LSSU and York have one thing in common. Both teams ended 2004-05 with stinging losses. The Lakers ended last season with three straight one-goal losses, including a 4-3 overtime loss at Nebraska-Omaha in Game 2 of the CCHA First-Round Playoffs. York, meanwhile, concluded its season with back-to-back double-overtime losses to Lakehead in the OUA West semifinals. The Lions finished 12-6-5-3, while LSSU was 9-22-7.

The U.S. Under-18 squad is 7-0 heading into a nine-game stretch against NCAA Division I opponents. The U-18s' swing through Michigan's Upper Peninsula includes a Friday game at Northern Michigan. They will play 14 games against DI opponents this season.

LSSU and the U.S. Under-18 team last met during the 2003-04 season. That year the teams skated to a 3-3 tie with Laker Jeff Rainville scoring the game-tying goal on a power play at 9:01 of the third period. Restoule tallied two goals in that contest. Nicholson scored the Lakers' only goal in a 1-1 tie during the 2002-03 season. All of the Laker goal scorers were freshmen when they played in those games.

Note: The Laker Hockey Show has been moved to Tuesdays at 6:05 p.m. at Moloney's Alley. The first show, with host John Bell, will air Tuesday, Oct. 4.

Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey
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