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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

LSSU opens Playoffs at Home

Lake Superior State Univeristy’s (15-12-7, 11-12-5 CCHA) hockey team will host the Bronco’s from Western Michigan University (8-22-6, 7-16-5 CCHA) this weekend in the opening round of the CCHA playoffs in a best-of-three first-round series beginning at 7:05 p.m. Friday at Taffy Abel Arena. Saturday’s second game and Sunday’s if-necessary game are also set for 7:05 p.m. The home playoff series for the Lakers will mark the first time that Sault Ste. Marie has played host to the CCHA playoffs since the 1999-00 season, when the Lakers where upset by Bowling Green State in a sweep. Lake Superior has not won a playoff series since the 1995-96 season, under Jeff Jackson, when they swept Ohio State before eventually falling to Michigan in the CCHA finals.

For LSSU to advance in the CCHA finals they will have to beat a Western Michigan team that they have already beat four times this season. LSSU beat WMU 10-0 and 3-1 on Nov. 4-5 in Kalamazoo, and won 6-1 and 4-0 Jan. 6-7 in Sault Ste. Marie. The last time that LSSU beat a team six times in one season was in the 1984-85 season when the Lakers beat the University of Michigan 6 times, including a sweep in the CCHA playoffs. Lake State is 4-0 in post season play against Western Michigan, to go along with their 64-37-11 all time series record.

The Lakers’ have statistically played their best hockey against WMU this season. One third of the Lakers leading scorer junior Trent Campbell’s points came at the expense of the Bronco’s this season, he scored 4 of his 13 goals this season against WMU and recorded 4 of this 11 assists. Freshman Troy Schwab posted similar numbers with half (4) of his eight goals coming at the expense of WMU, and 7 of this 22 points. Junior goaltender Jeff Jakaitis has posted, two shutouts, a 0.50 goals-against average; letting in just 2 goals in four games; and .980 save percentage against the Broncos this season.

Western Michigan shocked the CCHA by taking 3 points last weekend by beating Nebraska-Omaha to avoid last place in the CCHA. The Bronco’s strong play last weekend prevented Scott Parse, arguably the best player in college hockey from posting more than 2 points, both assists, on the weekend. The Mavericks’ loss dropped them into fifth place in the CCHA, and gave Northern Michigan a first-round bye along with Miami, Michigan State and Michigan. The other first-round CCHA series this weekend include Bowling Green at UNO, Ohio State at Ferris State and a rematch of last weekend’s Alaska Fairbanks at Notre Dame series.

Western has struggled mightily this season only wining 7 games in conference and not winning going 1-11-2 on the road in CCHA games. Western has been able to record wins this season via a sweep over Ohio State and plus posting wins over Michigan State, Northern Michigan, and Nebraska-Omaha, four teams that LSSU has gone 0-8-2 against this season. Western Michigan is 2-1-2 in their last 5 games while LSSU has gone 0-4-1 in their last five, and 1-5-2 in their last eight games.

Western Michigan is led offensively by Senior forward Brent Walton who has scored 23 goals and 38 points, while appearing in all of Western’s 36 contests this season. Junior Paul Szczechura has recorded 10 goals and 33 points this season. Sophomore goaltender Dan Bellissimo has appeared in 34 of Western’s 36 contests this season, posting a .877 Saves Percentage, and a 3.83 goals against average.

Comments on "LSSU opens Playoffs at Home"


Anonymous Candice said ... (10:30 AM) : 

Looking forward to a GREAT weekend of Laker Hockey!! I was really bummed last weekend thinking it would be my last home game as a LSSU student, so glad I get ONE more weekend! Hopefully get some good pics, not sure what the deal was last weekend, but my pics pretty much sucked :-/ GO LAKERS!!


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