SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. - The No. 19 Lake Superior State Lakers opened 2021 with a 4-1 loss to the Bemidji State Beavers in the first game of a non-conference home series on Saturday, Jan. 2 at the Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. Junior forward Miroslav Mucha scored the lone goal for the Lakers while Mareks Mitens stopped 29 shots in his first loss of the season.
For the first time this season, the Lakers allowed the game's first goal as Bemidji State took a 1-0 lead at 18:12 of the first period. The goal was scored by Kyle Looft who took a shot as he skated into the offensive zone. Looft's shot beat LSSU goaltender Mareks Mitens but didn't yet cross the goal line until after a scramble in the crease. The puck would deflect in off of the Lakers who were defending on the play. Looft's first career goal was assisted by Nick Cardelli and Tyler Kirkup.
The Lakers tied the game at one at 5:26 of the second period when Miroslav Mucha extended his goal streak to a career best three games with his third goal of the season. With the goal, Mucha ties his previous season high in goals with three. The play started with junior defenseman Jacob Nordqvist dumping in the puck from the neutral zone. The Lakers forward line of Mucha, Yuki Miura and Hampus Eriksson worked along the end boards to gain possession of the puck. Miura would take the puck around the back of the net and connect a pass to Mucha who was open on the doorstep. Mucha, who was all alone in front of Beavers goalie Zach Driscoll, sent off a quick shot that made its way past Driscoll to even the score at 1-1.
In the final period of play, the Lakers and Beavers continued to play a tight game until Bemidji State took the lead at 10:29 of the third period. Brendan Harris scored the eventual game winning goal from the top of the faceoff circle as he fired a high shot that rang in off the crossbar and into the top corner of the net to beat Mitens.
The Lakers stayed within a goal of the Beavers until the final minute of play when Aaron Miller and Harris each scored empty net goals to seal their team's 4-1 victory over the Lakers.
Bemidji would finish the game outshooting the Lakers by a margin of 33-31. Mittens finished the game with 29 saves on 31 shots while Driscoll stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced from the Lakers.
The Lakers and Beavers will close out the weekend series with a 3:00 p.m. game tomorrow Sunday, Jan. 3 at the Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.