PLYMOUTH, Mich. - The Lake Superior State men's hockey team fell to the U.S. National Team Development Program (NTDP) Under-18 Team in an exhibition game by a final score of 5-4 in a shootout on Friday, Jan. 31 at the USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich.
The Lakers took a 1-0 lead at 19:38 of the first period when Pete Veillette scored for the Lakers to extend his point streak to four straight games. Senior captain Max Humitz began the play as he carried the puck up the ice through the neutral zone and into the U.S.'s defensive zone. With three defenders on him, Humitz held up along the boards and sent a pass across the ice to connect a pass to Veillette between the circles.Veillette skated in with the puck before faking the shot and instead sending the puck to defenseman Will Riedell, who was driving to the net on the play. Riedell sent the puck through the crease to Veillette, who tapped the puck in for the goal.
Late in the second period, the NTDP tied the game at one when Matthew Beniers scored a power play goal at 18:10. Beniers skated in from along the goal line to send a sharp angle shot up high on Roman Bengert, who entered the game for the Lakers at the start of the second period.
After two goals in the first period, the Lakers and Team USA would score a combined six goals in the last 20 minutes of regulation play. The NTDP would take a 2-1 lead at 4:11 of the third period when Chase Yoder capitalized on a broken play. Jake Sanderson would take a shot from the blue line that would deflect off a Laker stick and Beniers would bat the bouncing puck on net. Bengert stopped the initial shot but the rebound darted out to Yoder, who was open in front to send the puck right in.
Team USA went ahead by two goals at 5:03 when Daniel Laatsch scored while shorthanded after sending a shot down the ice from the defensive zone that fooled Bengert to go in to give the National Team a 3-1 lead.
The Lakers would then score three consecutive goals to regain the lead. Humitz scored at 6:06 of the third period while on the power play. Louis Boudon brought the puck into the offensive zone and would send a pass to Dustin Manz who fired a shot that went wide of the net. The puck caromed off the end boards right to Humitz, who collected the puck and sent the shot into the top corner over USA goaltender Noah Grannan.
Less than a minute later, Manz would set up another goal for the Lakers as he fired a shot at Grannan that the USA goaltender would stop but let out a big rebound. With lots of traffic near the US net, Miroslav Mucha would find the loose puck and send it into the wide open net to tie the game at three.
The Lakers regained the lead at 7:31 of the final regulation period when Boudon won an offensive zone faceoff that led to a lengthy zone possession by the Lakers to record the go-ahead goal. Humitz would outmuscle the NTDP defenders for the puck in the corner before skating through two players to circle through the zone and connect a pass to Jacob Nordqvist. Nordqvist sent a quick short pass to Boudon at the hash marks. Boudon's high shot beat Grannan to give the Lakers a 4-3 advantage.
The Under-18 Team would not let the Lakers stay ahead for long as Brett Berard scored a power play goal at 9:16 to tie the game at four.
After 60 minutes of play, the game remained tied. The two teams played a five minute overtime session with each team having three skaters on the ice. With neither team scoring in the overtime, the game would head to a shootout to decide the winner. The U.S. team would score twice in the shootout compared to one goal by the Lakers to seal the victory.
Mareks Mitens played the first twenty minutes of the game for the Lakers, stopping all 10 shots that he faced. Roman Bengert would enter the game at the start of the second period and finish the appearance with 21 saves in 44:59 of playing time. The Under-18 Team saw Drew Commesso stop eight of nine shots in the first 28:22 of the game and Grannan would make 11 saves on 14 shots in the final 36:37 of the game. The NTDP outshot the Lakers, 35-23, in the game.
The Lakers will resume conference play next weekend as they travel to Houghton, Mich. to take on their Upper Peninsula rival, Michigan Tech in a WCHA series with important league points on the line. The series opener is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 7 at 7:00 p.m. and the series will close with a 5:00 p.m. game on Saturday, Feb. 8.