Sunday, February 27, 2011

Miami Sweeps LSSU in Final Regular Season Series

Miami of Ohio's Curtis McKenzie (front) races up ice ahead of
 LSSU's Matt Bruneteau during the Redhawks 4 - 1 win Saturday night
 at Taffy Abel Arena.
The Lake Superior State Lakers ice hockey team may have come into this weekends CCHA match up against Miami of Ohio thinking they could sweep the 11th ranked Redhawks but it didn’t happen. The Lakers, who were honoring their graduating seniors this weekend, managed only two goals in the series losing Friday night by a score of 8 -1 then 4 - 1 on Saturday.

“We went into the weekend thinking we could win two games and get a buy” (a week off during the first round of the upcoming conference playoffs) , said Laker head coach Jim Roque in Saturday nights post game interviews. “We really believed that in our hearts”

Miami senior Carter Camper got the Redhawks off to a fast start on Friday scoring on Laker starting goaltender Kevin Kapalka at just past the three minute mark of the first period. Reilly Smith extended the lead to 2 - 0 before the end of the first period and Justin Vaive tallied two scores in the second bringing the Redhawk advantage to 4 - 0.

Miami's Andy Miele (right)brings the puck past LSSU's Kyle Haines
 and around the net as LSSU goaltender Kevin Kapalka (left)
 slides to cover the open side of the goal.
At the beginning of the third the Lakers coaching staff opted to give their starting netminder a rest putting in backup Niels-Erik Ravn. Miami scored on Ravn four times in the period on seven shots. Despite the loses the Friday night third period effort put forth by the squad was coach Roques only real disappointment of the weekend. “I didn’t think our guys did enough to help Niels.” he said. “He’s a kid that’s out there every day, right to the end of practice, taking shots, helping out. I just thought our guys could have done more to help that kid in that twenty minutes”.

Laker junior Fred Cassiani scored LSSU’s only goal of the night Friday when he beat Miami goaltender Cody Reichard at the 16:25 mark of the third period. Redhawk Carter Camper picked up his second of the night and nabbed the first of the Miami third period goals during a 5 on 3 opportunity followed by Reilly Smith’s second of the game with Pat Cannone and Andy Miele, who leads the nation in scoring, adding numbers seven and eight to the score sheet.

The Lakers celebration of their senior’s last home game didn’t get off to a much better start Saturday when a mistake at their offensive blue line quickly left goalie Kevin Kapalka facing a 4 on 1 rush. Reilly Smith, with assists from Andy Miele and Cameron Schilling, made the Lakers pay for the mistake to start the Redhawk scoring just over a minute into the game.

Miami’s Curtis McKenzie added an even strength goal and Will Weber took it to 3 - 0 with a short handed score. Matt Tomassoni capped off the Redhawks weekend with an empty netter just before the end of the third period.

LSSU captain Rick Schofield ended his regular season career with the Lakers only score of the night on a third period power play opportunity. It was certainly not the way Schofield anticipated his final non-playoff home game to end but according to Miami head coach Enrico Blasi his career at LSSU did not go unnoticed. “He’s been one of my favorite players in the league, he plays hard every night”. Asked about his post game on ice conversation with the Laker captain, Blasi said “I just told him that he’s had a great career, good luck in the playoffs.” “Hopefully things go well for him in the future. I would take him on our team any day.”

Miami defenseman and Gaylord Michigan native Will Weber (left) and
Reilly Smith (right)  close in on LSSU team captain Rck Schofield
 as he works the puck up ice.

All in all coach Roque was not overly disappointed with his teams effort against the Redhawks who, in addition to their current national ranking, have made it to the nations Frozen Four in both of the last two years. “We worked really hard tonight, I was really happy with our effort tonight. If we play like that going forward I’m okay with that.”

With the new playoff format being implemented by the CCHA this year all eleven teams in the conference will compete for the league championship. The top five teams will get a week off while next weekend the remaining six will battle it out for the right to advance. LSSU 8th place finish in the conference means that they will face off at home next weekend against the number 9 finisher, Ohio State, in a best of three series to determine which team will advance.

“Now it’s a new season. You live day to day now starting next Friday night with game one against Ohio State” said Jim Roque. “We get home ice and we have to take advantage of that next week then obviously try to go wherever after that.”

Thursday, February 17, 2011

February Thaw

Harbor Springs resident John Riggs takes advantage of
the warmer weather to practice his uni-cycle riding.

With warmer than normal temperatures expected until the weekend northern Michigan’s February thaw has given many area residents an opportunity to get outside and shake off a little cabin fever. Even though the ice on area lakes is now largely covered with a layer of melt water ice fishermen were out in strong numbers enjoying the warmer temps this morning.

On the down side, snowmobile and cross country ski trails may not fair so well. Snowmobile trails in many high traffic areas are now more mud than snow and non-resort cross country ski trials may wind up in pretty rough shape.

While area ski resorts, with deep base layers of natural and manmade snow will survive the warm stretch hopefully the snow in the forecast will bring enough accumulation to fill in the voids on the snowmobile and cross country trails.