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Monday, February 19, 2007

The End of an Era, as LSSU Plays Final Home-and-Joe Series

Wearing throwback jerseys that brought the fans back to the 60’s and 70’s the Lake Superior State University hockey team suffered a heartbreaking loss, 3-1, on Sunday afternoon, in front of a sparsely populated crowd of less than 5,000. With the conclusion of this game LSSU brought to an end a 12 year tradition of playing a home game in Detroit, Michigan.

Under an arrangement with the Ilitch family pertaining to the contribution that they gave to the "Gem of the North" project, the Lakers have played one of their home games against the University of Michigan or Michigan State every year since the 1995-96 season.

Off the ice these games have been extremely successful for LSSU in that the school has been able to provide a local game for LSSU alumni that live in the Detroit Metropolitan Area. The majority of these games have also been broadcast statewide on cable television giving the school further exposure.

Although technically a home game for the Lakers U of M or MSU fans greatly outnumber LSSU fans at these games. With the Detroit metro area having the largest population of LSSU alumni outside of Chippewa County, the games in Detroit have been great meeting places for meeting up with long lost friends in the form of former alumni. LSSU alumni have treated this game as an annual pilgrimage coming to Detroit from Southern Ontario and across the United States to meet up with old friends, and take in a Laker hockey game. LSSU's exposure in the Detroit area due to these games has had a tremendous impact on LSSU's present and future with alumni bringing their friends and family to give them an introduction to Lake State.

On the ice these games have been anything but successful for the Lakers going 1-10-1 in these games that see the Lakers playing a home game in the Soo then traveling to Detroit for the game at the Joe less than 48 hours later. Unfortunately the heart of this agreement has coincided with the same time frame in which LSSU's hockey program has struggled under the guidance of former head coaches Scott Borek and Frank Anzalone. With the program on an upswing after alumnus Jim Roque took over the program before last season it is a shame that this tradition has come to an end.

Results wise LSSU will probably be better off with this agreement in the past, taking advantage of an extra home game at the Taffy Abel Arena. But the exposure that LSSU has received by playing a single game a year in the Detroit Metropolitan area is immeasurable and irreplaceable.

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