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Lakers achieve national ranking

Derek R. Smith

Dec. 13, 2005

SAULT STE. MARIE - The Lake Superior State hockey team, which has made its way into a national media poll for the first time in nearly a decade, will put its six-game unbeaten streak on the line during this weekend's series at Notre Dame.

The Lakers (9-5-4 overall, 5-5-2 Central Collegiate Hockey Association), who are ranked 18th in the poll, play the Irish (5-10-1 overall, 3-6-1 CCHA) at 7:05 p.m. Saturday and 2:05 p.m. Sunday at the Joyce Center in South Bend, Ind. Saturday's game will be televised live in South Bend by Comcast. Both games will be broadcast live on Rock 101 FM and simulcast on

Based on strength of schedule and success against ranked teams, LSSU is also surprised to find itself among the top 10 teams in the Pairwise and RPI computer rankings. If the Lakers stay there throughout the season, that means they will be in a good position to earn a NCAA Tournament bid. However, it is much too early to be thinking about playoff bids, and LSSU will have enough to deal with this weekend regarding the emotions of maintaining its unbeaten streak and taking on former Laker coaches Jeff Jackson and Paul Pooley.

Jackson, who was the Lakers' head coach from 1990-91 through 1995-96 and led LSSU to NCAA titles in 1992 and '94, took over the Notre Dame program this summer. He reunited with former LSSU assistant coach Pooley, who left a head coaching position at Providence to serve as an assistant at Notre Dame. Between collegiate coaching stints, Jackson spent four years helping establish the U.S. National Team Development Program, was a head coach for the Guelph Storm for three years and an assistant with the New York Islanders for two seasons.

LSSU current head coach Jim Roque was an assistant under Jackson at LSSU in 1990-91 and 1994-95.

Lake Superior State, which is currently tied for fourth place with Ferris State and Michigan State in the CCHA standings, has a chance to end of the first half of league play with a winning record for the first time since the 1997-98 season. The Lakers are coming off a 2-1 win and 2-2 tie with 19th-ranked Bemidji State. During that series, junior forward Trent Campbell drew assists on three of LSSU's four goals, and junior goaltender Jeff Jakaitis was named CCHA Goaltender of the Week after stopping 66-of-69 shots on goal.

LSSU has improved its goals-allowed average to 2.06, which ranks second in the CCHA behind Miami and sixth nationally. Jakaitis is currently ranked 10th in goals-against average at 2.01 and 17th in save percentage at .918.

Campbell leads the Lakers in scoring with five goals and eight assists. Junior Jeff Rainville (4-6--10) is second, followed by freshman Troy Schwab (4-5--9).

Notre Dame is coming off a 3-2 win and 2-1 loss during a Tuesday-Saturday home-and-home series with Minnesota State. Last Tuesday's win ended a 17-game road winless streak (0-15-2) for the Irish. Freshman Erik Condra scored the winning goal with nine seconds left in regulation. He leads UND in scoring with three goals and 11 assists.

Note: The Dec. 10 edition of the Wall Street Journal featured a column written by Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Bryan Gruley on the hockey community's rally behind the family of LSSU standout Tim Breslin. The article is titled, "Hockey: A different kind of star athlete - In a year of scandal, a reminder of why we root." The LSSU sports information office is seeking permission to re-run the story.

Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey
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