|1st||18:09||LSS||1-0||EV||Bryce Schmitt (2)||Ryan Renz/3, Austin McKay/3|
|2nd||3:35||LSS||2-0||PP GW||Jake Hand (2)||Owen Headrick/6, Gage Torrel/9|
|2nd||19:56||NMU||1-2||EV||Dominik Shine (14)||Gerard Hanson/17, Darren Nowick/17|
|3rd||19:54||LSS||3-1||SH EN||Mitch Hults (7)||Eric Drapluk/1, Kyle Chatham/5|
|Lake Superior State||1||1||1||3|
|Shots on Goal||1st||2nd||3rd||SOG|
|Lake Superior State||16||10||5||31|
|Team Stats and Records||PP||PIM||SHGF|
|Northern Michigan (15-12-6)||0/3||6/12||0|
|Lake Superior State (12-19-4)||1/4||5/10||1|
|Northern Michigan Goaltending||MIN||GA||1||2||3||Saves|
|Mathias Dahlström (L, 7-1-0)||58:59||2||15||9||4||28|
|Lake Superior State Goaltending||MIN||GA||1||2||3||Saves|
|Gordon Defiel (W, 9-11-3)||60:00||1||6||16||5||27|
SAULT STE. MARIE - Lake Superior State earned a 3-1 victory in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association series-opening game over Upper Peninsula rivals Northern Michigan on Friday night. With the win, the Lakers (12-19-4, 9-12-4 WCHA) took a 2-1 advantage in the Cappo Cup series and a three-goal lead on the season series.
Senior Bryce Schmitt (2-2--4) opened the scoring late in the first period with his second goal on the season following a perfect feed by sophomore defenseman Ryan Renz (1-3--4), making his first appearance in the Laker lineup since Jan. 16. LSSU senior captain Austin McKay (1-3--4) also tallied an assist on the game's first goal.
The Lakers took a 1-0 lead into the first break and held a commanding 16-6 lead in the shot column to set the offensive tone early.
Just over three minutes into the second period freshman Jake Hand (2-6--8) scored his second goal of the season on the power play to put the Lakers up 2-0. Fellow freshmen Owen Headrick (4-6--10) and Gage Torrel (7-7--14) added the assists on Hand's goal, which held up as the eventual game-winning marker.
Sophomore goaltender Gordon Defiel (9-11-3) proved he was up to the task with 27 saves on the evening, including 16 saves during a second period barrage by the Wildcats (15-12-6, 12-9-4 WCHA). The lone blemish on Defiel's victory in net came with five seconds remaining in the middle period.
As the second period was coming to a close the Wildcats picked up a fortuitous bounce to set up a 3-on-2 breakout and were able to cut the lead in half following a pair of nifty passes to find Dominik Shine with his 14th goal of the season.
As both sides tightened their belts defensively in the final period, the Lakers clung to the 2-1 through 19 minutes of the third.
With NMU starting goaltender Mathias Dahlstrom (7-1-0) pulled in lieu of the extra attacker, the Wildcats applied heavy pressure during the final minute, eventually drawing a penalty on the Lakers.
As the final seconds ticked away the Wildcats turned an odd-man rush into a scoring chance but an errant pass from behind the net found itself on the tape of Mitch Hults' (7-9--16) stick. The freshman, Hults, fired the puck three-quarters of the length of the ice into the open net to ice the victory with six seconds remaining.
Dahlstrom, who picked up his first defeat of the season saved 28 shots on the evening and was tagged for two goals.
The victory secures the Lakers their second-consecutive trip to the WCHA playoffs as the Alaska Nanooks fell to Michigan Tech on Friday night. With three games remaining on the schedule and a six-point advantage over the Nanooks in the standings, the Lakers hold any potential tie-breaker scenario over the UAF after earning a sweep in Fairbanks on Dec. 4-5.
LSSU also moved to within one point of Bemidji State for sixth place in the WCHA standings after the Beavers skated to a 1-1 tie with Alabama-Huntsville.
The Lakers and Wildcats conclude the series at 7:07 p.m. ET on Saturday to decide the winner of the Cappo Cup. Immediately following Saturday's contest LSSU will honor their six seniors with a special ceremony for their final game played in Taffy Abel Arena.