BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - The No. 13 Lake Superior State hockey team's historic 2020-21 season came to a close following a 5-1 loss to the No. 6/5 University of Massachusetts Minutemen on Friday, March 26 in the Opening Round of the NCAA National Tournament at the East Regional in Bridgeport, Conn. at the Webster Bank Arena.
The Lakers, the No. 3 seed in the regional, took on the No. 2 seeded Minutemen in the team's first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since the 1995-96 season following an automatic bid into the tournament as the WCHA Tournament Champions.
In the first meeting all-time between the Lakers and the Minutemen, the game remained scoreless through the first ten minutes of play with UMass holding the early advantage in shots (5-4). At 10:07 of the first period, the Minutemen broke the scoreless tie as Jake Gaudet scored the game's first goal to give UMass a 1-0 lead. Gaudet capitalized on a rebound and put the puck past Laker goaltender Mareks Mitens.
The Lakers would be assessed the game's first penalty as Benito Posa went to the box for holding at 10:13. But in the first minute of the penalty kill, Yuki Miura drew a penalty as he got hooked while driving to the net on a two-on-one with Hampus Eriksson. Neither team would capitalize on the man advantage and the game remained 1-0.
At 17:14 of the first period, Ashton Calder tied the game at one with his team-leading 16th goal of the season. Veillette got off the initial shot on UMass netminder Filip Lindberg and the puck would dart out to Calder who would put away the shot to make it a 1-1 game. Junior defenseman Jacob Nordqvist earned the secondary assist on the goal for the Lakers.
In the second period, the Minutemen scored a pair of goals in under two minutes to go up 3-1 on the Lakers. The first forty minutes ended with the score at 3-1.
Just past the halfway point of the third period, UMass took a three goal lead over the Lakers on a power play goal at 10:49. The Minutemen would seal the win with an empty net goal in the final minutes of the third period.
The game ended with the Lakers recording 31 shots compared to 37 shots on goal from the Minutemen. Mitens finished his stellar career with the Lakers with 32 saves, which included 16 stops in the second period.
The 2020-21 Laker hockey season was one for the history books as the Lakers finished the regular season second in the WCHA standings, won the program's first WCHA Championship, advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 25 years, posted the program's 1000th all-time win, and ended the season with the program's highest win percentage in 25 years.