LSSU Hockey opens playoff series with win over Bemidji State

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SAULT STE. MARIE, Mi. No. 4 seed Lake Superior State hockey defeated No. 5 seed Bemidji State 4-2 in game one of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Quarterfinals on Friday night at Taffy Abel Arena.

With the win, Lake Superior State (22-11-2) takes a 1-0 series lead in the best-of-three series. It is the Lakers’ first home postseason victory since defeating Bowling Green 2-0 on March 8, 2013, when the Lakers were part of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. The Lakers’ 22 wins are their most in a season since 1995-96 when they finished the season with a 30-8-2 record.

Bemidji State (15-16-6) got the scoring started at the 9:19 mark of the first period off a goal from Nick Cardeli, giving the Beavers a 1-0 lead. The Beavers also led in shots during the frame by a 9-4 margin.

Five minutes and 17 seconds into the second period, senior forward Diego Cuglietta evened it up for Lake Superior State at one goal apiece with his NCAA-leading 24th goal of the season, assisted by sophomore forward Hampus Eriksson. The Lakers took the lead at the 18:29 mark of the frame when sophomore defenseman Lukas Kaelble netted his second goal of the season, bringing the score to 2-1. Junior defenseman Collin Saccoman and freshman forward Ashton Calder assisted on the tally, which was scored on the power play. The Beavers outshot the Lakers 14-12 in the second frame and cumulative shots at the end of 40 minutes were 23-16 in favor of Bemidji State.

Lake State capitalized on the man advantage once again, 9:49 into the third period, to extend the lead to 3-1. Senior forward Anthony Nellis scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal, while Calder and Saccoman both picked up their second assists of the night. Bemidji State cut into the lead with a goal at the 10:27 mark from Brad Johnson. Junior forward Max Humitz notched an empty-net goal with 16 seconds remaining in regulation to cap off the Lakers’ 4-2 win. Bemidji State added eight shots on goal compared to Lake State’s five, giving the Beavers a 31-21 overall lead in shots for the night.

Nick Kossoff (16-6-2) saved 29 of Bemidji State’s 31 shots and Zach Driscoll (10-9-4) made 17 saves on 21 shots faced.

The Lakers were 2-for-3 on the man advantage and the Beavers were 0-for-2.

Lake Superior State and Bemidji State face off Saturday night for game two of the best-of-three WCHA Quarterfinals series, with puck drop set for 7 p.m. The teams will return to the ice on Sunday at 4 p.m. if a deciding third game is necessary.

Tickets for game two are available online or at the Norris Center ticket office beginning at noon on Saturday. For additional ticket information, visit lssuakers.com or call 906-635-2601.