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Lakers will put their depth to the test in 2004-05



Bo Cheesman

Oct. 5, 2004

SAULT STE. MARIE - Lake Superior State has more returning letter winners than any team in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. The Lakers' challenge will be to use that depth to make a major statement in the league.

LSSU, which opens its season with an exhibition game at 7:35 p.m. Friday against the Toronto Varsity Blues, returns a CCHA-leading 22 letter winners, including three seniors, 12 juniors and seven sophomores. The Lakers also return their top three scorers from last season, and 14 of their top 15 scorers overall. Heading the list are sophomore forward Dominic Osman (10-9--19), senior forward Bo Cheesman (11-7--18) and sophomore forward Trent Campbell (4-14--18).

Will that depth and experience translate into scoring more goals? LSSU coach Frank Anzalone said that scoring will still be a challenge for the team that was ranked 12th in the CCHA in overall scoring last season. The Lakers, however, have players who are capable of putting the puck in the net, and Anzalone hopes to see them "score by committee."

"For us to do better this year we have to win at home on a consistent basis and we have to be better on special teams," Anzalone said during the CCHA Media Day press conference held last week at Joe Louis Arena. "I think our defense is a little bit better. It is more mature. We have some juniors and some sophomores who can play up front. We still may be bothered by that little annoyance of putting the puck in the net, but I think with the experience now our players feel more comfortable doing the things that they need to do to score goals. I would like to see us score some of those dirty goals that we used to score to win games."

LSSU doesn't have a Brian Rolston or Doug Weight who can score the "pretty goals that we got years ago." Anzalone, however, expects more from his juniors and seniors, who can be "better than ever this year in the garbage area."

Winning at home was a key to success in the CCHA last season, and that won't change in 2004-05. LSSU must also contend with what may be the most grueling road schedule in the program's 39-year history. The Lakers take the first of two trips to New York on Oct. 15-16 when they play at Colgate. They also travel to Omaha, Neb., Fairbanks, Alaska, and Miami, Ohio, during the regular season.

"The outlook of our players is more positive than it has been in the last few years," Anzalone said. "The enthusiasm in their training and getting in shape and being committed has evolved immensely in the past few years. We are very confident that we can do better."

LSSU is playing Toronto for the third time in school history. The Lakers' all-time record against the Varsity Blues is 2-0, including a 4-3 victory on Dec. 19, 1974, and a 3-1 win on Nov. 28, 1992.

Toronto, winner of 41 Queens Cup titles, finished 13-15-4-1 and won its fourth straight Ontario University Association East Division title last season. The Blues return OUA goal-scoring leader Ian Malcolm, a 5-10, 184-pound center, who is in his fourth season.

Friday's season opener is one of the earliest starting dates in Laker hockey history. On only two other occasions has LSSU started its season earlier: Oct. 5, 1984 and Oct. 7, 2000. This is the third time that the season has started on Oct. 8.



Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey
 
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