SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. - The Lake Superior State hockey team recorded a thrilling 5-4 overtime win against the Northern Michigan Wildcats in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) game on Saturday, Feb. 6 at the Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. Ashton Calder scored the game winning goal for the Lakers with 3.2 seconds left in overtime for the LSSU victory.
The two Upper Peninsula rivals played to a 1-1 score in the first period. Wildcat forward Joseph Nardi opened the game's scoring with a goal at 4:06 after a rush through the neutral zone into the offensive zone. Nardi fired a quick wrist shot that beat Laker goaltender Seth Eisele on his glove side for a 1-0 NMU lead.
At 6:27 of the first period, junior forward Ashton Calder, the Lakers leading scorer, would even the game at one with his sixth goal of the season. Miroslav Mucha carried the puck through the neutral zone before banking a pass off the boards to freshman defenseman Jacob Bengtsson, who was skating on the wing. Bengtsson sent the puck towards Northern goaltender Nolan Kent, and Calder who was driving to the net on the play, tapped the puck across the goal line to tie the game at one.
The second period featured five goals in the first ten minutes of play with the Wildcats scoring three goals and the Lakers adding a pair.
Nardi added his second goal of the game after capitalizing on a two-on-one with Andre Ghantous only forty seconds into the second period to regain the lead.
With his first collegiate goal, freshman Benito Posa tied the game at two for the Lakers at the 4:53 mark of the second period. Posa and his linemates, Chase Gamelin and Alex Ambrosio, were hard on the forecheck in the Wildcat zone, and after winning the battle for the puck along the boards, Posa gained possession. Posa skated into the circle from the boards and sent a shot that would change direction on its way towards the NMU net, beating Kent to tie the game at two. Gamelin and Ambrosio each notched their first assists of the season on the goal.
Later in the second period, Northern Michigan would add two goals in just over a minute as Alex Frye added a power play goal and Griffin Loughran put the Wildcats ahead 4-2 with a goal at the 8:46 mark.
Mitchell Oliver brought the Lakers back within a goal of the Wildcats as he scored a power play goal for the Lakers at 9:16 of the second. Oliver, who has scored both his goals this season on the power play, was playing the point on the man advantage with forward Jack Jeffers. Jeffers received a pass from Yuki Miura and would then trade passes with Oliver along the blue line. Oliver's shot from the point would make its way through traffic and beat Kent to cut the Wildcat lead to 4-3.
Sophomore Brandon Puricelli would tie the game with a power play goal for the Lakers at 9:31 of the third. After Jacob Nordqvist regained possession of the puck after the Wildcats tried to clear the zone, the junior defenseman would send a cross ice pass to Puricelli, who was stationed in the circle to the right of Kent. Puricelli would fire a puck on net that made its way through the screen to even the game at 4-4.
With under five minutes left in the third period, the Lakers had a flurry of quality chances with Puricelli, Calder and Oliver each recording a shot on goal. After the puck left the Wildcat zone, Miroslav Mucha prevented the Wildcats from an odd man rush as he dove to keep the puck away from the Northern skater.
After the first sixty minutes ended tied at four, the Lakers and Wildcats played a five minute three-on-three overtime period. In the closing seconds of overtime, Ashton Calder scored following an individual end-to-end rush up the ice, beating Kent with 3.2 seconds left in the game. Calder's goal, which was unassisted, came off a wrist shot from the slot to give the Lakers the victory.
Eisele earned the win for the Lakers making 33 saves in the game while Kent finished the game with 28 shots from the Lakers in the game. Special teams played a role in the game with each team recording at least one power play goal and the Lakers recording two power play goals in the game.
Tomorrow afternoon, the Lakers and the Wildcats will wrap out the weekend series with a game at 3:07 p.m. at the Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.