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Lakers and Spartans to play rematch
Dec. 31, 2002
SAULT STE. MARIE - The Lake Superior State hockey team begins the second half of the 2002-03 season fresh from a two-week break, while Central Collegiate Hockey Association cluster rival Michigan State comes into Taffy Abel Arena after finishing third in last weekend's Great Lakes Invitational.
The Lakers (3-14-1 overall, 0-12-0 CCHA) went into the break on a positive note, having snapped their school-record 13-game losing streak with a 2-2 tie at St. Lawrence. Now they hope to regroup and claim their first league victory of the season.
"Things are getting better all the time, but it's hard to tell because of where we're are," LSSU coach Frank Anzalone said. "I'm looking forward to the second half."
Michigan State was 2-1-1 in its four games prior to the GLI and split with league leader Ferris State before taking its holiday break. The Spartans are 9-8-1 overall and 4-5-0 for 10th place in the CCHA standings, but trail most teams in the league in games played by three games. At the GLI, they rebounded from Saturday's 6-1 loss to Boston University with a 6-2 victory over Michigan Tech in Sunday's consolation game.
MSU scored three power-play goals, one shorthanded and two four-on-four goals against Michigan Tech. The Spartans out-shot the Huskies 40-17.
Michigan State first-year coach Rick Comley said that the Spartans are a similar team to what they were in October when they swept LSSU in East Lansing. Although the Lakers have the most freshmen on their roster, MSU is the youngest team in the CCHA based on average age.
"It's been a year where we've struggled to put back-to-back games together," Comley said. "We've made very little progress in that area. We have an awful lot of young kids...They need to make major adjustments to the coaching and life without (former goaltender) Ryan Miller. He is such an amazing player and bailed this team out so many times."
LSSU played its first CCHA series of the season at MSU on Oct. 24-25 and was shell-shocked with a 7-0 loss on Friday. The Lakers rebounded with a well-played 3-2 loss Saturday. Freshman Jon Booras scored both goals in that game, including a game-tying goal at 19:04 of the third period. MSU's Brock Radunske answered with the game-winner at 19:57.
"On Friday we were down 2-0 going into the third and I think I stepped on the gas too early," Anzalone said. "The players did not respond to that well. (On Saturday) we should have come out with a point. That was a negative point in the season."
Lake Superior State suffered a similar heart-breaking loss the following Saturday at home against Northern Michigan and never really recovered during the first half of the season. The Lakers went 10 games without scoring a power-play goal, but scored one in both games of the St. Lawrence series. They hope it is a sign that their offense is improving. They must get their CCHA goals-per-game average well above 0.92 in order to have success.
"We need to know what we're doing on the ice and do it harder," Anzalone said. "Those two things, in themselves, are like walking on glass right now...I think when we out-work somebody we will win a game. We have to out-work them in their zone and in our zone."
Junior Chris Peterson leads LSSU in scoring with four goals and five assists, while senior Jeremy Bachusz and Booras lead in goals scored with four each. The Lakers have been out-scored 66-23 so far this season.
Senior defenseman Brad Fast (8-8-16) and sophomore forward Jim Slater (7-9-16) lead MSU in scoring. They are followed by freshman forward David Booth (8-7-15) and senior defenseman John-Michael Liles (4-11-15). Sophomore goaltender Matt Migliaccio has a 2.73 goals-against average and .913 save percentage.
MSU is ranked second in the CCHA in power-play conversion (.214) and has 18 power-play goals to the Lakers' seven. The Spartans have a definite advantage on special teams.
"Well, we have Fast and Liles, who are two of the better offensive defensemen in this league," Comley said. "They are seniors, and we go as they go."
Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey