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Lakers, Nanooks are nearly even going into weekend series

Jeff Rainville

Nov. 29, 2005

SAULT STE. MARIE - Lake Superior State, with its 12-member senior class, will be taking on one of the youngest teams in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association during this weekend's series with Alaska Fairbanks.

The Nanooks' roster includes 20 underclassmen and only one senior, Kelly Czuy. LSSU's big senior class dominates a roster that includes 19 upperclassmen and 10 underclassmen.

Other than that, the two teams have plenty in common, including the fact that they are nearly even in the standings, team offense, power play success and penalty killing. Parity was also evident last season as LSSU and UAF split a November series in Sault Ste. Marie and skated to back-to-back ties during a January series in Fairbanks.

The Lakers (6-5-3 overall, 3-5-2 CCHA) and Nanooks (6-4-2 overall, 4-3-1 CCHA) play Friday at 7:35 p.m. and Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at Taffy Abel Arena. LSSU will be wrapping up a busy first semester of home games and won't be at home again until early January. Saturday is "Youth Hockey Night," and youth players of all ages will be admitted free as long as they are wearing their team jerseys. Teams should contact the Norris Center Ticket Office, 906-635-2601, for group seating. Youngsters are encouraged to be accompanied by an adult.

LSSU beat Robert Morris 3-0 and 4-3 in overtime last weekend for its first home sweep since Oct. 18-19, 2002. Despite playing a non-conference opponent, several CCHA teams still have games in hand on the Lakers. They are currently tied for sixth in the standings with Northern Michigan with eight points.

UAF, which is one point ahead of the Lakers in the league standings, split a league series with NMU last weekend, winning 3-1 on Friday and losing 4-1 on Saturday. Fairbanks coach Tavis MacMillan had the quote of the weekend when describing his team's inability to cash in on its scoring chances - a fate that LSSU has endured all too often.

"We're a lot more Swedish than we are Finnish," he said. Both teams make up for occasional scoring woes with solid defense.

The Nanooks, who are ranked seventh in the CCHA in penalty killing at .831, held NMU's power play scoreless for its first shutout weekend of the season. The Lakers, who are sixth in penalty killing at .838, have not allowed a power-play goal in five of their last eight games. The Lakers are ranked second in the CCHA and seventh nationally in goals allowed at 2.14.

LSSU coach Jim Roque used the RMU series as a chance to rest a few players who are nursing minor injuries and to give junior goaltender Jeff Jakaitis a break. Jakaitis recorded his fifth career shutout last Friday and sat out on Saturday, allowing freshman goaltender Vince Wheeler to pick up his first career victory. Freshmen Marty Gurnoe and Troy Schwab, and senior Mark Adamek are all expected to return to the lineup this weekend, while freshman defenseman Matt Wheeler is questionable.

Junior forward Jeff Rainville is leading the Lakers in scoring with four goals and six assists, while sophomore Dan Eves (4-3--7), junior Trent Campbell (4-3--7), Schwab (3-4--7) and Dominic Osman (5-2--7) are tied for second. Osman has a CCHA-leading three game-winning goals this season.

Notes: Senior Steve McJannet was incorrectly listed as scoring the Lakers' second goal in Saturday's 4-3 overtime victory over Robert Morris University. Jeff Rainville was the goal scorer.

Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey
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