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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

LSSU Struggling Through Season

With three wins through 22 games this season LSSU looks set to post their worst season in the school’s 41 year history of playing ice hockey, the previous worst was a 6 win season in 2002-03. Following a strong finish last season which included LSSU winning two CCHA playoff series, Laker fans had high hopes heading into this season. But as the losses mount Laker fans across the country are getting increasingly frustrated with seeing Lake Superior’s once proud and feared legacy tarnished, with many asking for heads to roll.

Hold your horses Laker fans. We all knew it could be a long season with the departure of the likes of Jeff Jakaitis and Derek A. Smith, and a touch schedule being clustered with The University of Michigan, Michigan State, and Northern Michigan.

The lack of a number one goaltender has been the most glaring problem for the Lakers this season it appears evident following Hoffort, Madeley, Lacher, Grahame, Platt, Violin and Jakaitis that neither Inglis nor Mahoney-Wilson is the heir apparent. Inglis has gone 1-8-2 with a .854 SV%, and 4.48 GAA during his sophomore year while, while Mahoney-Wilson is 2-7-2 with a .896 SV% and 3.02 GAA during his freshman run.

LSSU has played 12 games against teams that are currently ranked in the top 10 winning only one of these games, against Clarkson. Glaring losses include a 1-2 loss to Wayne State, and being swept by Northern Michigan in November. Still on the Lakers schedule are Ohio State, Ferris State, Western Michigan, Alaska, and a rematch against Northern Michigan.

Scoring is down again this season about a half a goal a game to 1.88 goals per game in CCHA action while the Lakers are allowing over 1.5 more goals per game up to 4.25 goals per game. Sophomore Nathan Perkovich has scored 12 goals for 14 points through 21 games to lead the Lakers while Dan Eves, Troy Schwab and Zach MacVoy are the only other Lakers averaging more than 0.5 points per game.

The defense has also been struggling this season as evident in the elevated goals against averages weighing down the Laker goaltenders. The loss of Birkeland and Smith are evident but the loss of Ryan Baird prior to the season also compounds to the defensive woes for the Lakers. The loss of Baird is seen in that his replacement Ben Kitzmiller has only seen action in only 5 games this season after Ryan Baird saw action in 34 games for the Lakers last season as a freshman after missing 9 games after recovering from a shoulder injury that led to his retirement before this season. The loss of Birkeland and Smith also compounds to the defensive woes for the Lakers.

A strong finish could push LSSU as high as 8th in the CCHA and drastically increase their chances of a strong playoff push like last season.

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