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Lakers look to change momentum

Freshman forward Jon Booras

Dec. 4, 2002

SAULT STE. MARIE - Nebraska-Omaha is coming into Taffy Abel Arena on a high after setting two records during last Saturday's 5-3 victory over Merrimack.

Lake Superior State is at the other end of the spectrum, searching for confidence and offense after losing 4-2 and 3-0 at Western Michigan. The Lakers (3-11-0 overall, 0-10-0 Central Collegiate Hockey Association) are seeking their first CCHA win of the season.

"Saturday was the same old story," LSSU assistant coach Tim Christian said. "We just couldn't put the puck in the net. But we worked really hard in that game and I hope we take that into this weekend."

Seniors Jeremy Bachusz and Aaron Davis scored first-period goals to get Lake Superior State off to a good start Friday, but the Lakers were shut out during the next five periods and finished 0-for-11 on the power play. They have not scored a power-play goal in eight games.

"You can't teach scoring," said Christian, who handled media responsibilities for head coach Frank Anzalone while he was out of town recruiting. "Scoring is a talent, really."

Nebraska-Omaha (5-7-2 overall, 3-5-0 CCHA) hasn't fared much better on the power play this season. The Mavericks are 11th (.132) and the Lakers are 12th (.072) with the man-advantage. Both teams have scored only two power-play goals against CCHA teams.

"Special teams play a big part in every series," UNO coach Mike Kemp said. "But one thing I say about Lake Superior, they are a very disciplined team and don't take very many penalties. Under those circumstances, there may not be as much power play/penalty kill time as there has been in some other series in the conference this year. Getting a bounce here and there on the power play for either team could be a difference-maker in the series."

UNO has had much more success stopping other teams on the power play. The Mavs are fifth in the league in penalty killing at .846, while LSSU is 12th at .649. Special teams difficulties have forced the Lakers to play extremely disciplined hockey. They average only 12.36 penalty minutes per game, which is the second-lowest in the league.

"Our special teams are weak right now, so we can't afford to give up eight power plays," Christian said.

The Mavericks are optimistic after beating Merrimack with their biggest comeback victory in school history. They trailed 3-0 when Greg Zanon notched two goals and three assists in the second and third periods to secure the UNO win. He started the scoring spree with a goal and an assist during a 5-on-3 power play late in the second period.

"It is a boost of confidence for a team that has been struggling as much as we have," Kemp said. "It's nice to get the experience of coming back from a deficit, battling through a difficult time even though it was at home, and coming up with a win over Merrimack. Any time you're in a situation like we're in, where things have not gone as well as you expected, you are in a position where you're looking for any kind of optimism. I think we can take some optimism from last weekend, knowing that our guys didn't quit. They showed perseverance and real dedication."

Zanon, a second team All-American who established a UNO record for most single-game points by a defenseman, accomplished his feat despite playing with 10 stitches in his chest. He was cut by a skate during Friday's game.

Zanon, a 6-0, 200-pound senior with four goals and 10 assists this season, isn't the only UNO player capable of having a big game. Junior forward Andrew Wong (6-0, 182) is ninth in CCHA scoring with three goals and 13 assists, and senior forward David Brisson (5-11, 190) is eighth in goals scored with eight.

Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey
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