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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Lakers Play Michigan in Ann Arbor this Weekend

The Lake Superior State hockey team just completed its most-successful month of the season so far and will take a three-game win streak into this weekend’s series against fourth-ranked Michigan.

LSSU (9-11-8 overall, 6-8-6-1 CCHA) plays Michigan (19-9-0 overall, 13-7-0-0 CCHA) at 7:35 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at Yost Arena. Both games will be broadcast live on Rock 101 and simulcast on Saturday’s game will be televised on Comcast 900 and the NHL Network (live in Canada and tape-delayed in the United States).

The Lakers, who won 2-0 and 4-2 last weekend to sweep Michigan State for the first time since 1989, were 4-3-1 during the month of January. They are tied for eighth in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association with 19 points. It was also around this same time last season that they hit their stride, but they had only 10 points in league play heading into the final four weeks of the 2007-08 regular season. In 2008-09, they have nearly doubled their point total.

LSSU is playing a talented opponent that has also steadily gained steam. Michigan is tied for fourth in the league standings with 26 points after splitting last weekend’s series with No. 1-ranked Notre Dame. The Wolverines are 10-2 in their last 12 games.

Michigan, the only CCHA team that does not have a tie this season, is playing the team that leads the nation in tied games. Little else separates the Lakers and Wolverines statisically. U-M is ranked third in the league and LSSU fifth in goals-for, and the teams are fourth and sixth, respectively in goals-against. Michigan is sixth and LSSU eighth in power play, and they are fifth and seventh, respectively, in penalty killing.

Michigan’s penalty killing rate has improved dramatically during its current streak of 25 straight penalty kills, including all seven against the Fighting Irish.

LSSU will be looking to close the gap after getting outscored 19-7 during four losses to Michigan last season. U-M won 5-1 and 6-2 on Nov. 16-17, 2007, in Sault Ste. Marie, and won both games by a 4-2 count on Feb. 15-16, 2008, in Ann Arbor. Sophomore forward Rick Schofield and junior forward Zac MacVoy both had a goal and two assists to pace the Lakers last season against the Wolverines.

Schofield was the CCHA’s fourth-leading scorer during the month of January with 6-5—11, and he has 7-6—13 in the Lakers’ last 10 games. He is also leading the Lakers in plus-minus at plus-16.

Senior forward Troy Schwab recorded an assist during LSSU’s 2-0 victory over MSU last Friday, but his seven-game point streak came to an end on Saturday. He leads the Lakers and is tied for 11th in the CCHA in points with 9-16—25. Junior forward Nathan Perkovich has 3-3—6 during the Lakers’ last three games.

Michigan sophomore forward Aaron Palushaj, with 9-24—33, is ranked second in the CCHA in points and leads the league in assists, and while sophomore forward Louie Caporusso, with 20-11—31, is ranked fourth in points and leads the league in goals scored. U-M sophomore goaltender Bryan Hogan is fourth in the CCHA in goals-against at 1.92 and eighth in save percentage at .917.

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