2014-15 Overall Record: 8-28-2
2014-15 WCHA Record: 7-20-1 (T-8th of 10)
Head Coach: Damon Whitten – 2nd Season (8-28-2)

That the Lakers somehow made the WCHA quarterfinals last year is a bit of a miracle considering that they were one of the worst teams in the entire NCAA. They ranked dead last in the NCAA in both penalty killing and the power play, had the second worst goal margin (-71), were the second worst at goals scored per game (1.58 goals), and were the bottom ten in goals allowed per game (3.45). The good news is that the Lakers only lost three seniors from last season – the bad news is those three players accounted for a quarter of Lake Superior’s already paltry goal total. With a group of potentially high-scoring freshman coming in, the Lakers may improve their scoring a bit. However, the defense is mostly the same as last year’s – just a little older. The fact that there will be ten freshman on the team does not bode well for this season’s outlook…especially considering that the Lakers open against North Dakota.

Key Returning

Alex Globke, F, Junior
After a thunderous freshman season in which he scored 31 points and the WCHA’s Rookie of the Year, Globke experienced a huge drop off last season, scoring just 10 points (5 – 5) in the same number of games as the prior season. In fact, he only scored one point in his final 11 games of the season. Globke was virtually nonexistent last year, with half of his points on the entire season coming in a four game stretch over eight days in January. If there was one thing Globke was during his sophomore slump, it was consistent – he was consistently ineffective. From October 18th until his brief hot streak in January, a period of 17 games and nearly three months, Globke scored zero goals and one assist. Should Globke return to his freshman form, LSSU may be a different team than expected.

Bryce Schmitt, F, Senior
Schmitt is the leading returning scorer from arguably the worst offensive squad in the NCAA. However, from his freshman year, Schmitt’s scoring totals have steadily increased, from 6 points in 39 games to 15 points in 38. He will not light the world on fire and will likely not win any awards, but considering only one other forward returning from last year’s team managed to score 10 points, he will likely be looked to for early season leadership.

Newcomers

Diego Cuglietta, LW, Kamloops, British Columbia
The Lakers have to be hoping that a player like Cuglietta can help solve their most basic need – they lack scoring. In three seasons with the Merritt Centennials of the BCHL, Cuglietta scored 134 points (42 – 92) in 158 games, finishing as a point per game player in each of the last two seasons. He’s a player that Whitten actually tried to bring in last season, but he opted to return to Merritt. Obviously, Whitten sees an NCAA-caliber scorer in this player.

Jake Hand, C, Oakville, Ontario
Hand is another scoring forward from the BCHL, but at 6’3”, 205 pounds, he also brings a decent about of size to the table. In 120 games with the Chilliwack Chiefs over two seasons, Hand put up 112 points (46 – 66), including 78 (33 – 45) last season. In addition, the Oshawa Generals actually drafted him in a very late round in 2010. Expect Hand to see some action right off the bat – with his size, he is well suited to parking in front of the net and providing the Lakers with some goal-scoring that they very desperately need.

Mitch Hults, C, Stoughton, Wisconsin
At a listed 6’3”, 209 pounds, Mitch Hults is a very large freshman. Hults played the last three seasons in the USHL, spending last season with the Ryan Suter-owned Madison Capitols after his previous team – the Indiana Ice – went into “dormancy”. In three USHL seasons, Hults scored 63 points (28 – 35) in 127 games while helping the Ice to the league title in 2014 with a team high five goals in the playoffs. Mainly, Hults seems to have been recruited almost for his size. Faceoffs will be a major issue for the Lakers this season, as the best returning player finished last season with a .477 percentage. The center dot could be Hults’ intended destination.

C.J. Hayes, F, Margate, Florida
Hayes is a pretty obvious depth recruit for the Lakers. In two USHL seasons with the Fargo Force, he scored 18 points (11 – 7) in 105 games. His size is simply average and his scoring ability is virtually nonexistent – if you can’t score in the USHL, you definitely won’t score in the NCAA – but when he was recruited, Whitten declared Hayes to be an “elite skater”. Considering the Lakers finished at an NCAA-worst .736 penalty kill percentage, they need all the help they can get.

Owen Headrick, D, Garden River, Ontario
For a team that has trouble keeping the puck out of their own net, Owen Headrick certainly seems to be a move in the right direction. Headrick played two seasons of Junior A on the Canadian side of the river with the Soo Thunderbirds, garnering NOJHL rookie of the year honors in 2014. In 98 games, he scored 77 points (26 – 51) and was drafted by the Erie Otters in the very late rounds of the 2013 OHL Draft. He missed the majority of last season with a dislocated shoulder, but made it back in time to lead the Thunderbirds to the NOJHL title while taking home the playoff MVP award. Headrick just turned 18, which may be a blessing and a curse for the Lakers – on one hand, it means even his basic skills still may be improving, but on the other, it means that some players he’ll go against this season may be six years older than he is.

Nick Kossoff, G, West Des Moines, Iowa
Kossoff spent last season with the NAHL’s Keystone Ice Miners, finishing the season with third in the league with a .931 save percentage while having a second-best six shutouts, winning 14 out of 26 games started. Returning sophomore goaltender Gordon Defiel allowed the most goals in the NCAA last season (107) and took home the most losses (26) but also faced the most shots (1255) and made the most saves (1148) earning four shutouts along the way. Depending on what Defiel shows up this season, Kossoff may have an opportunity to play.

Matt McArdle, D, Annapolis, Maryland
McArdle is a purely defensive defenseman – or at the very least, he’s not an offensive defenseman, scoring 12 points (2 – 9) in 89 USHL games, plus another 10 (0 – 10) in a 21-game NAHL stint. If anything, McArdle is versatile, playing on five different teams – the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints, Muskegon Lumberjacks, Fargo Force, and Sioux City Musketeers, as well as the NAHL’s Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees – over two seasons. He’s a decent skater on a team already packed with defensive defensemen, but as part of Whitten’s first full recruiting class, might be more the type of defenseman the coach desires.

Anthony Nellis, C, Breakeyville, Quebec
Nellis could be a sleeper recruit for Lake Superior. He joins the Lakers coming off a season of Junior A with the CCHL’s Pembroke Lumber Kings where he finished third in the league in scoring with 80 points (32 – 48) in 58 games regular season games, combined with a league high 25 points (8 – 17) in 16 playoff games. The season was good enough to earn him a nod on the CCHL’s Second All Star team. Prior to playing with the Lumber Kings, Nellis spent three seasons in the QJAAAHL (now the QJHL) with the Sherbrooke Cougars scoring 214 points in 194 games. If any player in this recruiting class has experience with putting the puck in the net, it’s Nellis – and it’s a skill that the Lakers desperately need.

Josh Nenadal, F, Brecksville, Ohio
In 216 USHL games between the Waterloo Blackhawks and the Youngstown Phantoms, the 5’9” forward scored 54 points (20 – 34). However – more indicative, perhaps of his intended role with Lake Superior – Nenadal had 375 penalty minutes. Nenadal was involved in 8 fights during his USHL career and was suspended multiple times for kneeing, checking from behind, checking to the head and abusing officials. If nothing else, this history shows that he is a very physical player. It’s unclear what role this player will have on the Lakers, but they have him.

Gage Torrel, F, Monticello, Minnesota
Torrel bounced around juniors for a bit, starting in the NAHL with the Alexandria Blizzard, moving up to the USHL with the Fargo Force before spending the last season and a half with the BCHL’s Langley Rivermen, where he finally found his stride. Torrel comes from a family of hockey players – his father Steve was drafted by the Whalers, his brother Mitch played the last four seasons with Air Force and his uncle Doug spent a few years in the Canucks system. Torrel finished last season twelfth in the BCHL in scoring with 64 points (26 – 38), ending his BCHL career with 94 (38 – 56) points in 97 games. He also scored 23 points (9 -14) in 80 USHL games and 28 points (12 – 16) in 53 NAHL games. It’s clear that Lake Superior went out looking for scoring this season, but with several players of seemingly similar caliber brought in – such as Torrel – it will be interesting to see if they happen to solve the scoring issue or if they merely cancel each other out.

Schedule

Date Opponent
Friday, October 9 North Dakota (at Portland, Maine)
Saturday, October 10 Michigan State (at Portland, Maine)
Friday, October 16 @ Northern Michigan
Saturday, October 17 Northern Michigan
Thursday, October 22 @ Michigan State
Friday, October 23 @ Michigan State
Friday, October 30 Alabama-Huntsville*
Saturday, October 31 Alabama-Huntsville*
Friday, November 6 @ Bowling Green*
Saturday, November 7 @ Bowling Green*
Friday, November 13 Arizona State
Saturday, November 14 Arizona State
Friday, November 20 @ Bemidji State*
Saturday, November 21 @ Bemidji State*
Friday, November 27 Ferris State*
Saturday, November 28 Ferris State*
Friday, December 4 @ Alaska*
Saturday, December 5 @ Alaska*
Friday, December 11 Michigan Tech*
Saturday, December 12 Michigan Tech*
Tuesday, December 29 Vermont (at Burlington, Vermont)
Wednesday, December 30 Brown (at Burlington, Vermont)
Friday, January 8 Bowling Green*
Saturday, January 9 Bowling Green*
Saturday, January 16 Alaska-Anchorage*
Sunday, January 17 Alaska-Anchorage*
Friday, January 22 @ Minnesota State*
Friday, January 22 @ Minnesota State*
Friday, February 5 @ Michigan Tech*
Saturday, February 6 @ Michigan Tech*
Friday, February 12 Bemidji State*
Saturday, February 13 Bemidji State*
Friday, February 19 @ Alaska-Anchorage*
Saturday, February 20 @ Alaska-Anchorage*
Friday, February 26 Northern Michigan*
Saturday February 27 Northern Michigan*
Friday, March 4 @ Ferris State*
Saturday, March 5 @ Ferris State*

*WCHA Conference Game

Header image courtesy: Lake Superior State Athletics