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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Lakers to play host to #11 Miami

The Lake Superior State University (3-2-3, 2-2-2 CCHA) hockey team will take on the #11 Miami University RedHawks (5-1-0, 4-0-0 CCHA) team at the Norris Center’s Taffy Abel Arena this weekend.

Both teams are coming off of surprising series sweeps this past weekend with LSSU sweeping Western Michigan University (10-0 and 3-1), and Miami upsetting Ohio State University (3-1 and 4-1). Coincidently WMU had swept Ohio State the weekend prior to playing LSSU. The Lakers earned two points in the Division I Men's Poll this week.

Miami, picked to finish seventh in the CCHA in the preseason media poll, has surprised a lot of people this season sweeping Nebraska-Omaha and Ohio State, with three of these victories coming on the road. The RedHawks are off to a 4-0-0 start in league play for the first time in Coach Enrico Blasi's tenure. Miami's last 4-0-0 start was during the 1996-97 season when RedHawks won five in a row to start the conference slate. The 1996-97 team went 27-12-1 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

Miami's penalty kill was successful last weekend holding OSU to 0 for 16 on the power play, and scoring two shorthanded goals. Miami’s power play went 3-for-7 on Saturday after going 0-8 on Friday; giving them a season total to .128, tied for ninth in the CCHA, Miami’s power play also surrendered a short handed goal to OSU.

LSSU went 7-20 on the power play against WMU, and held WMU goalless surrendering 9 power play opportunities and scored one shorthanded goal. The Lakers offensive explosion has given them a season total of .209, 4th in the CCHA. The Lakers are also risen to sixth in the CCHA in penalty killing with a giving up one goal per game with a kill rating of .818.

Miami is looking to extend their season winning streak to 7 games this weekend. LSSU leads the all-time series against Miami, 50-24-10, including a 32-6-4 advantage at in the Sault. Last season, the Lakers and RedHawks split their series in Oxford, Ohio. The Lakers have struggled as of late against the RedHawks, going 2-10-0, in the last 12 meetings. This is the only scheduled meeting of the two teams this season.

LSSU's big guns last weekend included highly touted but underachieving Jeff Rainville and Trent Campbell, who both totaled two goals and three assists for the series. Freshman (phenom?) Troy Schwab finished with three goals and one assist.

LSSU goaltender Jeff Jakaitis stopped 49 out of 50 shots on goal to earn CCHA Goaltender of the Week honors. Friday's win was his fourth career shutout and but unfortunately only his second shutout victory. Jakaitis is currently the CCHA’s fifth rated goaltender with a .921 save percentage in the league (.917 SV% NCAA).

Miami sophomore defenseman Mitch Ganzak was awarded as the CCHA Defensive Player of the Week, after recording 4 assists against OSU. A somewhat puzzling choice since he was on the ice when OSU scored their short handed goal. Ganzak has seven points on one goal and six assists, which ranks him second on the team and fourth among CCHA blue liners. His six assists lead the RedHawks.

Miami is led offensively by senior defenseman Andy Greene who has 8 points in 4 CCHA games this year. Green, as well as sophomore forward Ryan Jones, senior forward Chris Michael and Junior Forward Marty Guerin have each scored three goals in the 4 CCHA games Miami has played. Freshman Miami goalie Jeff Zatkoff leads the CCHA with a .945 save percentage, while sophomore goalie Charlie Effinger is third in the league with a .939 save percentage.

The Lakers have out-shoot their opponents in six of eight games played this season.

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