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April 18, 2024

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Hockey takes both games of Lake Superior State series

The Falcons hockey team defeated the Lake Superior State Lakers in both games Friday and Saturday nights, winning 3-2 in a shootout Friday night before taking it 5-2 on Saturday.

The first period of Friday’s game saw the Falcons take the lead early on a goal from freshman forward Max Johnson less than three minutes into the game, allowing the team to take a 1-0 lead going into the second. The team was able to also outshoot Lake Superior State 11-4 in the first period.

In the second, Lake Superior State tied it up shortly after the beginning of the period with a goal courtesy of J.T. Henke, capitalizing on a power play chance to extend their advantage as the best power play unit in the WCHA. However, the Falcons were able to regain their one-goal-lead at the 6:04 mark on a tally from freshman forward Brandon Kruse, making it a 2-1 game as the teams headed into the third.

As the third rolled around, the team held onto the slim lead until Anthony Nellis for Lake Superior State scored the equalizer at 8:57. Neither team scored again for the remainder of regulation time, sending the game into overtime.

In the first period of overtime, neither team was able to generate many scoring opportunities, moving the game into a second overtime period where the teams skated three on three. This brought the Falcons offense back into the game, as they were able to get eight shots on net to just one by Lake Superior State. However, none found the back of the net as the teams went into a sudden death shootout to determine the winner.

The first two rounds of the shootout saw all the shooters stopped, and the third round began with Max Humitz looking to give Lake Superior State the advantage, but his shot was no good to again give the Falcons a chance to put it away. The team sent up senior forward Mitch McLain, who shot from the slot past goaltender Nick Kosoff to seal the 3-2 victory. The game officially counted as a tie in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings.

The team felt that being able to play in two shootouts previously this year helped them to better establish a lineup.

“Stephen (Baylis) had the game winner at Tech, Max Johnson had a good move but hit the post, Mitch made a good move at Tech and just missed,” Bergeron said. “That had a lot to do with it, where the first time was just one and done.”

On Saturday, the Falcons were able to get on the board first with a shorthanded goal from junior forward Stephen Baylis at the 3:48 mark of the first period, the team’s first shorthanded goal of the season. However, with less than two minutes remaining in the first, Diego Cuglietta for Lake Superior State tied the game back up. The teams headed into the locker room evened up at 1-1.

“Stephen just skated past their guy for the first goal,” Bergeron said. “Lukas Craggs made a great play at our blue line, and then just across their blue line for our second shorthanded goal. I just think our penalty kill was strong tonight.”

In the second, the Falcons capitalized on another shorthanded chance, as senior forward Mitch McLain regained the lead at the 9:15 mark. Late in the period, Baylis was able to get his second of the game at 18:48 to give the team an insurance goal, which they would hold onto as the teams went into the third.

“I thought (the second goal late) was big,” Bergeron said. “Everyone in the building thought a two goal lead, ‘uh oh, here we go again,’ so I think it was big, it was a reward for a good shift.”

The third period saw the Falcons increase their lead even more, with freshman forward Cameron Wright scoring on a power play chance just over two minutes in. However, Lake Superior State would bring it back to a two goal deficit, as Gage Torrel scored at the 7:37 mark. The score would remain the same until late in the game, as Lake Superior State pulled their goaltender. It didn’t take the Falcons long to take advantage of it, as McLain shot it into the empty net with less than two minutes to go in the game to seal the 5-2 victory.

The team felt they were able to turn the game around in the second and third periods because of the aggressive way that both teams played.

“We just started to play the game with a better mindset,” Bergeron said. “We got out front pretty early with a shorty, and everything’s good. There’s a little bit of buzz in the building and then we give up a really poor goal from the D-zone faceoff, and now we seem to be chasing a little bit and fighting ourselves. The game, as it was contested got a little bit crusty, which it can, and as it got more crusty I think our guys got more engaged and more involved By the third, I felt really good about the way we were playing.”

The team also feels they were able to create better scoring chances in Saturday’s game than Friday, however, they want to continue to build on scoring more goals five on five.

“We feel like last night we had plenty of even strength opportunities,” Bergeron said. “When you’ve got one team on the penalty kill eight times and the team’s on the penalty kill six times, that limits the amount of five on five play there is, so you’ve got to play the game and you take advantage of the opportunities you have, and that’s what we did shorthanded. … I think we’re capable, we’ve just got to do it more often.”

The team will next play Friday and Saturday nights on the road against the Minnesota State Mavericks.

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