SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. - The No. 18 Lake Superior State hockey team earned a 6-1 victory over the Alabama Huntsville Chargers in the first game of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Quarterfinals on Friday, March 12 in the Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. The Lakers, the second seed in the conference postseason tournament, took the first game of the best-of-three series over the seventh seeded Chargers.
The Lakers would get on the board first in the game as Pete Veillette scored his 12th goal of the season at 3:14 of the opening period to give the Lakers the 1-0 lead. The Lakers top line of Veillette, Ashton Calder and Louis Boudon would enter the offensive zone together. The pair of Calder and Boudon would work the puck along the end boards and Calder would eventually connect a pass to Veillette right in front of the Chargers net. Veillette's quick shot beat UAH goaltender David Fessenden.
The Lakers now hold a 10-0-1 record when scoring the game's first goal and are 7-0-1 when leading following the first period.
Sophomore forward Brandon Puricelli doubled the Lakers lead later in the first period with his fifth goal of the season. While on the man advantage, the Lakers power play unit moved the puck around the offensive zone as defensemen Will Riedell and Jacob Nordqvist recorded the passes leading up to Puricelli's goal. Puricelli held onto the puck as he skated in from the top of the circle and fired a wrist shot that made its way through traffic and past Fessenden for a 2-0 lead at 11:17 of the first period.
Early in the second period, the Chargers pulled within a goal of the Lakers at 1:35 as Lucas Bahn scored on a five-on-three power play for Alabama Huntsville. Bahn's goal was assisted by Bauer Neudecker and Joshua Corrow.
However, just six seconds later, Veillette would net his second goal of the night as he scored a shorthanded goal to regain the Lakers two goal lead. The Chargers won the center ice face-off following Bahn's goal, and Veillette, who was in the Chargers zone applying pressure, would force a turnover. After taking away the puck from the UAH defender, Veillette would skate into the slot and send the puck by Fessenden at 1:41 of the second period to make it a 3-1 game.
Veillette's goal would be the start of four straight goals by the Lakers in the second period to give the Lakers a 6-1 lead following forty minutes of play. The Lakers are a perfect 8-0-0 record when leading after two periods of play this season.
At 13:50 of the second period, senior captain Lukas Kaelble scored his first goal of the season to give the Lakers a 4-1 lead. The play began with Boudon winning an offensive zone face-off and Calder swinging in to grab the puck off the draw. Calder found Kaelble at the far side of the blue line, and the defenseman would send a shot that beat the UAH netminder to extend the Lakers lead to 4-1.
Senior forward Alex Ambrosio would net his first goal of the season later in the second period as he redirected a shot by Nordqvist for a fifth Laker goal in the game. Leading up to the goal, Benito Posa took control of the puck along the boards in the offensive zone and would find Nordqvist open at the point. Nordqvist skated along the blue line towards center ice before taking a low wrist shot that was deflected by Ambrosio on its way to the Charger net. Ambrosio's redirection fooled Fessenden as the puck completely changed direction and beat the UAH goalie up high for a 5-1 Laker lead at 16:20 of the second period.
The game's scoring was capped off at 18:40 of the second period when Hampus Eriksson forced a turnover along the goal line and junior forward Miroslav Mucha took advantage to net the Lakers sixth goal of the game. Mucha skated in on Derek Krall, who replaced Fessenden following the fifth goal, and scored on a backhand shot to make it 6-1 in favor of LSSU.
In the final period of play, the Lakers were backstopped by freshman goaltender Ethan Langenegger, who played the last 20 minutes as the Lakers held a five goal lead in the game. Langenegger stopped all three shots he faced in the third period. Mareks Mitens, who earned his 12th win of the season, played the first 40 minutes for the Lakers and stopped 10 of the 11 shots he faced.
Fessenden stopped 14 of 19 shots from the Lakers while Krall made seven saves on eight shots after entering the game late in the second period. The Lakers outshot the Chargers, 27-14 in the contest.
The second game of the best-of-three series between the Lakers and the Chargers is set for tomorrow, Saturday, March 13 at 5:07 p.m. and if necessary, the third game will be played on Sunday, March 14 at 5:07 p.m.