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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Lakers Conclude First Half of CCHA Season with a Series against Mavs

SAULT STE. MARIE – The Lake Superior State hockey team wraps up a stretch of six home games in a four-week period with this weekend’s Central Collegiate Hockey Association series against Nebraska-Omaha.

LSSU and UNO play at 7:05 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at Taffy Abel Arena. Both games will be broadcast live on Rock 101 and simulcast on A pay-per-view video feed is available on the B2 Network.

Santa is making an appearance at Saturday’s game. The third annual Teddy Bear Toss is also Saturday, and fans can throw a stuffed animal on the ice when the Lakers score their first goal. The stuffed animals will be donated to local charities.

This is LSSU’s final home series until Jan. 16-17 when they play host to No. 1-ranked Notre Dame. The Lakers (4-6-6 overall, 3-4-5-1 CCHA) are trying to snap their string of three straight ties when they play an opponent against whom, ironically, they tied twice during the 2007-08 regular season. Heading into this weekend’s series, LSSU leads the CCHA in shootouts, but has lost four out of five league tie-breakers.

The new CCHA tie-breaker format is sparking plenty of discussion among hockey diehards. So far this season, Notre Dame and Michigan State are 2-0 in league shootouts, while UNO, Alaska and Northern Michigan are 2-1. Ohio State is 1-0, Miami 1-1, Michigan 0-0, Western Michigan 1-3, LSSU 1-4, Bowling Green State 0-1 and Ferris State 0-2.

In actuality the shoot out has had little effect on the standings:

PTs with shootout
PTs without shootout
Miami 23 22
Notre Dame 20 18
Alaska 17 15
Nebraska-Omaha 15 13
Michigan 14 14
Ohio State 14 13
Ferris State 14 14
Lake Superior 12 12
Bowling Green 9 9
Northern Michigan 9 7
Michigan State 8 6
Western Michigan 7 6

Nebraska-Omaha (9-4-3 overall, 5-4-3-2 CCHA) also tied both games last weekend while playing host to Alaska. The Mavs and Nanooks deadlocked 0-0 on Dec. 5 and 1-1 on Dec. 6, and they split the shootout decisions to pick up three points each in the league standings. Alaska’s stingy defense held UNO’s usually-potent power play scoreless on eight chances. UNO is ranked third in the CCHA in power-play percentage at .184 and third in penalty killing at .917, but the Mavs have given up a league-high four short-handed goals.

This weekend’s series will be a matchup of two of the CCHA’s top-scoring defensemen. UNO junior Eddie Del Grosso leads the league in points by a defenseman with 1-15—16, while LSSU junior Steven Kaunisto is tied for fourth in that category with 1-10—11. High-scoring freshmen John Kemp of UNO and Fred Cassiani of LSSU will also be going head-to-head. They are both ranked among the top 10 in the league in rookie scoring.

Senior Tomas Klempa has 8-7—15 to lead the Mavs in goal scoring this season. Both Klempa and teammate Dan Charleston, who is also a senior, have scored four power-play goals.

LSSU is led in scoring by junior forward Zac MacVoy (7-7—14), who tallied LSSU’s regulation and shootout goals last Friday against NMU. Senior Troy Schwab scored the game-tying goal last Saturday to improve his totals to 6-5—11.

The only other CCHA series of the weekend is a home-and-home matchup between Notre Dame and Bowling Green State.

LSSU’s previous five games against Nebraska-Omaha have gone into overtime with the Lakers finishing 1-0-4 in those contests.

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