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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lakers to Host Down Michigan State Spartans

This weekend Lake Superior State University will look to take advantage of a down Michigan State University, rocked this week by the suspensions and departure of Corey Tropp and Andrew Conboy. Currently LSSU and MSU are separated in the CCHA standing by only 3 points, so the 4-to-6 points up for grabs this weekend could push the Lakers up to 7th or down to 12th in the standings.

Lake Superior State (7-11-8 overall, 4-8-6-1 Central Collegiate Hockey Association) plays host to Michigan State (7-16-3 overall, 4-12-2-2 CCHA) at 7:05 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Both games will be broadcast live on Rock 101 and simulcast on A pay-per-view video feed is available on the B2 Network.

With five weeks remaining in the regular season, Ferris State is seventh in the CCHA with 17 points, while the Lakers have 15 points and are tied for eighth place with Northern Michigan. Western Michigan is 10th with 14 points, followed by Bowling Green State with 13 and Michigan State with 12.

The Lakers have a chance to control their own destiny with this weekend's series against the Spartans and upcoming series at home against WMU on Feb. 20-21 and at NMU on Feb. 27-28. They also have upcoming series against seventh-ranked Michigan and 10th-ranked Miami.
The rest of this weekend's slate includes Ohio State at Alaska, Nebraska-Omaha at Ferris State, Bowling Green at Miami, Northern Michigan at Western Michigan, and Michigan home-and-home with Notre Dame.

Michigan State, which last lost three games in a row, is in a similar situation. The Spartans still have to play Ferris State and BGSU. Last weekend they lost twice to Michigan, 6-2 and 5-3. U-M extended its win streak against MSU to six games - the longest run since the 1960-61 and 1961-62 campaigns.

MSU struggled through an 11-game freefall shortly after starting out the 2008-09 season ranked 11th in the nation. However, the Spartans have some quality wins, including a three-point weekend against Northern Michigan, and splits with Alaska and Miami. Then there's senior goalie Jeff Lerg, who leads the CCHA in saves with 683 and is regarded as the most-respected player in the league by team captains.

LSSU rebounded from last Friday's 4-3 loss at Bowling Green with an 8-4 victory. The Lakers scored the most goals in a game since beating Western Michigan 10-0 on Nov. 4, 2005. Sophomore forward Rick Schofield led the way with two goals and two assists. He was voted CCHA Offensive Player of the Week after totaling 3-2-5 for the weekend.

Schofield, who has seven goals and three assists in the Lakers' last eight games, and senior Troy Schwab, with one goal and six assists in his last six games, are leading two hot lines for LSSU. Junior defensemen Steven Kaunisto and Simon Gysbers are enjoying point streaks of three and four games, respectively, and are both ranked among the top 10 in the league defenseman scoring. Senior Josh Sim has 5-5--10 during the Lakers' last eight games.

LSSU is ranked fifth in the CCHA in scoring, averaging 2.92 goals per game, while MSU is 12th at 1.73. The Lakers and Spartans are ranked seventh and 11th, respectively, in average goals allowed per game, and are nearly even in penalty killing.

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