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Lakers to play NMU in home-and-home series

Mark Adamek

Dec. 1, 2003

SAULT STE. MARIE - To celebrate Student Appreciation Night, the Norris Center Ticket Office is offering free tickets to all Lake Superior State University students for Friday's Central Collegiate Hockey Association game against Northern Michigan.

Run in conjunction with the "Believe" campaign, the Lakers hope to pack Sections "U" and "V" with 600 or more students and set a new LSSU student attendance record. In addition, LSSU Student Government is distributing 500 "Believe" signs and hopes students will hold them up during the National Anthem. Residence Life will be passing out "Believe" towels, and the "Believe" Committee will be handing out cheer sticks so the student section can generate plenty of enthusiasm.

Friday's game, which begins at 7:05 p.m., is the first half of a home-and-home series with the Wildcats (5-7-0 overall, 4-6-0 CCHA). Saturday, the Lakers (4-4-4 overall, 2-4-2 CCHA) play NMU at 7:30 p.m. at the Berry Events Center in Marquette. Both games will air live on WSUE 101.3 FM and simulcast on

LSSU students can register at the LSSU Housing Office for a van ride to Marquette. The total cost, including tickets, is $5. If the vans fill quickly, additional students can travel at their own expense, but join the group in Marquette and obtain tickets for the $3 rate.

Last season, LSSU ended a nine-game losing streak against the Wildcats with a 4-2 home victory on Feb. 15. The Lakers scored three unanswered goals in that contest to come back from a 2-1 deficit. They erased memories of a heart-breaking 3-2 home loss on Nov. 1 during which NMU scored two goals during the final 1:38.

LSSU lost 3-0 and 2-1 at NMU last season, extending its road losing streak against the Wildcats to six games. The Lakers have not won in Marquette since, March 3, 2000.

The most-recent opponent for both LSSU and NMU was Notre Dame. Two weeks ago, the Lakers lost 5-3 and tied 2-2 in South Bend, Ind., ending a seven-game losing streak against the Irish. Notre Dame swept the Wildcats 5-1 and 4-2 in a home series last weekend. NMU, which is 1-4 in its last five games, relinquished a 2-1 lead in the third period of the Saturday game.

The Wildcats are led in scoring by sophomore defenseman Nathan Oystrick (3-9-12), freshman forward Darin Olver (5-6-11) and sophomore forward Dirk Southern (5-6-11). Senior goaltender Craig Kowalski (5-7-0) has a 3.45 goals-against average and .905 save percentage. He has the league's highest saves-per-game average of 31.75.

LSSU freshman goaltender Jeff Jakaitis (2-0-2), who emerged as the Lakers' "Saturday guy" in net in November, still leads the freshmen-dominated CCHA with a 1.35 gaa and .956 save percentage. Junior Matt Violin (2-4-2) has a 3.18 gaa and .865 save percentage. LSSU's scoring leaders so far this season are freshman forwards Trent Campbell (3-6-9) and Dominic Osman (6-2-8), junior forward Bo Cheesman (5-3-8) and sophomore forward Nathan Ward (3-5-8).

The Lakers are one point away from matching last season's CCHA point total. In 2002-03, the Lakers finished 3-24-1 in league play. They are 2-4-2 so far this season and are in a three-way tie for 10th place. The have games in hand on every team except Michigan and Alaska Fairbanks.

This weekend's series will be a Soo Indiana Junior A hockey team reunion of sorts. Former Indians include Wildcats senior defenseman Justin Kinnunen, sophomore defenseman Jamie Milam and freshman goaltender Bill Zaniboni, and Laker senior defenseman Ryan Branham, Cheesman and Osman.

Other NMU players with ties to Sault Ste. Marie are senior forward Alex Sawruk, who is a 1998 Sault Area High School graduate, and sophomore forward Andrew Contois, who is a transfer from LSSU. Sawruk, a 6-0, 195-pound forward, is scoreless this season, but has played in nine of 12 games. He totaled five goals and six assists last season.

Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey
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