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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

LSSU Hosts WMU to Start Second Half of the Season

The Lake Superior State University (10-6-4, 6-6-2 CCHA) hockey team will play host to struggling Western Michigan University (4-11-3, 4-6-2 CCHA) this weekend at the Taffy Abel Arena. LSSU is 6-2-3 at home while WMU is 0-6-3 on the road.

LSSU is coming off a disappointing holiday break which saw them lose two games in the TBAY Tel Varsity Cup Tournament to Canadian universities.

Western Michigan, picked to finish last in the CCHA in the preseason coaches poll, has done little to disappoint pollsters this season, with the exception of an early season sweep of then No. 4 Ohio State. WMU has gone 2-9-3 since, including being swept by LSSU in November which saw the Lakers score 10 goals in the opening game.

Western Michigan's special teams have been extremely average this season, the Broncos power play is ranked 7th in the CCHA with a .170 power play percentage. Western’s penalty kill by contrast has been successful a horrendous 78.8 percent of the time, and has been averaging a 23.28 penalty minutes a game.

LSSU’s special teams have been middle of the pack this season. The Lakers power play is ranked 6th in the CCHA scoring a goal 17.9% of the time, 25 goals in 140 opportunities. The Lakers penalty kill is ranked 7th in the CCHA, allowing 19 goals in 107 opportunities, for a .822 penalty kill percentage.

The Lakers are averaging 2.65 goals per game this season while allowing 2.05 goals per game. Conversely Western is averaging 2.28 goals per game while surrendering an average of 3.89 goals per game. The Lakers are close to averaging the same number of shots per game as their opponents this season 26.9-24.9, while WMU has been greatly out shot by their opponents averaging 24.2 shots to their opponents 33.8.

LSSU is looking to get back on track after a highly successful first half of the season; the Lakers have gone 2-3-1 in their last 6 games including their appearance in the TBAY Tel Varsity Cup Tournament. LSSU lead the all-time series 62-37-11.

WMU is lead by, senior forward Brent Walton, Junior center Paul Szczechura and sophomore goaltender Daniel Bellissimo. Walton has 12 goals this season and 22 points, Szczechura has 12 assists and 17 points in 18 games this season. Bellissimo has played in all of WMU’s contests this season recording all of the Bronco’s 4 wins. Bellissimo has a .895 SV% and a 3.57 Goals Against Average.

LSSU is lead by junior goaltender Jeff Jakaitis with his NCAA 9th ranked 2.01 goals against average, and 16th in the nation with a .918 save percentage. Jakaitis is also ranked third in the nation with 1132:13 minutes played this season. The Lakers offensive leader is Trent Campbell who has amassed 6 goals and 14 points this season.

It is imperative for the Lakers to have a strong January against Western, Ferris, Bowling Green, and Nebraska-Omaha, before they conclude their season against Michigan, Northern, and Michigan State.

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