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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Lake Superior State's Playoff Run Comes to an End

With a 6-7 loss on Saturday afternoon to Michigan State University in the CCHA consolation game, following a 0-3 loss to Notre Dame on Friday afternoon, Lake Superior State University’s first playoff run in a decade came to an end. Earning a trip to the Joe Louis Arena this spring has the potential to be a giant step forward for the LSSU hockey program.

After a lackluster performance against Notre Dame on Friday LSSU found themselves playing in front of an extremely friendly LSSU crowd in the CCHA consolation game on Saturday afternoon. The Lakers may well have put in the best performance that I have seen them play in the last decade as well. Despite controlling play for much of the first 10 minutes of the game the Lakers found themselves down 0-3 just under 13 minutes into the game. All three goals where caused by defensive collapses in front of the Laker net, and Jeff Jakaitis didn’t have a chance on any of the goals.

Despite playing from behind the rest of the game Lake State continued to control the play, battling back to shorten the MSU lead to one goal three times before the midway point of the third period. MSU then took a 6-4 lead with less than 6 minutes remaining in the game. Jim Roque pulled Jakaitis with 1:35 remaining in the game and MSU subsequently took a penalty giving LSSU 2 extra attackers in the MSU zone, Freshman Nathan Perkovich put in the power play goal, his third of the game, to pull the Lakers to within 1 goal. The excitement was only beginning as Trent Campbell added a second empty net goal with 20 seconds remaining to tie the game up at 6-6.

LSSU was able to hold off MSU in overtime before CCHA referee Steve Piotrowski called a questionable penalty with just over 1:30 remaining in the contest to put MSU on the power play. The Spartans scored on the ensuing power play to advance to the NCAA tournament. The Lakers greeted their senior net minder following the loss, congratulated MSU’s players and coaches, and then saluted the Laker faithful sitting in the Northeast corner of the Joe brining the loudest ovation heard in the building Saturday afternoon. The questionable Piotrowski call late in overtime put a damper on a greatly played game by the Lakers and a well called game by Piotrowski up to that point.

Notes: Great showing by Lakers fans at the Joe this weekend, besides all the friendly faces from the Soo, I met Laker fans that had traveled up from Indiana and Illinois to attend the games this weekend…I ran into Athletic Director Kris Dunbar between periods on Saturday, she gave Jim all the credit in the world for the Lakers performance in the CCHA playoffs. I had never met Mrs. Dunbar before and found her very friendly and accommodating to a couple of alumni catching the game.

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