A bad batch of leftovers: Tommies win streak ends at five with loss to Lakers

St. Thomas’ Mack Byers is separated from Lake Superior State’s Carter Batchelder at the end of the first period during a game Nov. 25 in Mendota Heights. (Photo by Ryan Stieg)

By Ryan Stieg 

MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. — The St. Thomas men’s hockey team may not have had a Thanksgiving hangover during its win Friday night, but it suffered some delayed indigestion Saturday against Lake Superior State. 

The Lakers scored three goals in the first period and that’s all they needed as they earned a 3-1 victory and snapped the Tommies’ five-game winning streak.  

“Unfortunately, we didn’t get the start we wanted last night, but I think it’s always so important to start well, especially on the road,” LSSU head coach Damon Whitten said. “So, a good start is key, and it was good to get that for us tonight and come out hot.” 

Tommies head coach Rico Blasi gave the Lakers credit for coming out of the gates fast after they had a rough start Friday night.  

“I give them credit, they were hungry,” he said. “We talked about some things that they might do, and they certainly did that right off the bat and got three quick ones. I thought we settled down and played pretty good the rest of the game.”  

St. Thomas’ Quinton Pepper and Lake Superior State’s Ross Roloson race to the puck in the Lakers zone during a Nov. 25 game in Mendota Heights. (Photo by Ryan Stieg)

Ross Roloson got things rolling for LSSU as he scored just 43 seconds into the contest to make it 1-0. Just over two minutes later, the Lakers struck again as Brandon Piku padded their lead to 2-0. At the 11:19 mark, Carter Batchelder scored his second goal of the weekend to put Lake State ahead 3-0 heading into the second.  

UST got three power plays during the second and it finally cashed in on the third opportunity as Ryan O’Neill drove to the net and beat Lakers goalie Ethan Langenegger five-hole to cut the deficit to 3-1. However, that’s all the Tommies could manage in the period and trailed by two going into the third.  

Things didn’t get better for UST in the final period as it couldn’t generate any quality scoring chances and had to spend five minutes of the period trying to kill off a major penalty called on Lucas Wahlin. The Tommies did manage to kill it off and they had a brief spark when Cooper Gay appeared to score with just over four minutes remaining, but the goal was waved off due to goaltender interference. UST also pulled goalie Jake Sibell shortly after that for the extra attacker, but Langenegger and the Lakers defense stiffened under the extra pressure.

“That’s probably the Ethan we know,” Whitten said. “He’s been that most nights for us, I thought Friday night too. Maybe there was one he’d want back, but he was solid on Friday night and then really strong tonight, especially as the game went on. We had six or seven penalty kills so he had to be really good on that as well.” 

At this point in the season, Whitten likes where his team is at as the Lakers are currently fourth in the tightly packed CCHA standings.  

“I think for a young team, we’ve shown some real promise,” he said. “Our veteran leaders have done a great job leading this group. It’s kind of been the Jared Westcott show as of late, so to get some contributions from other guys is huge. We’ve got balance, we’ve got goaltending, our young guys are quickly gaining experience on what it’s like to play in the CCHA. I’m excited and optimistic for what’s coming up.” 

St. Thomas’ Ryan O’Neill skates hard to the net on his way to scoring a goal during the second period of a game against Lake Superior State Nov. 25 in Mendota Heights. (Photo by Ryan Stieg)

For Blasi, he was pleased with how his team performed overall and despite the loss, the Tommies stayed at the top of the standings, two points ahead of Bemidji State.  

“I thought for 50 minutes, we actually played pretty good,” he said. “If I had to dissect it from last night, we probably played better tonight than we did last night. We couldn’t solve their goaltender. They did a good job blocking shots and getting into lanes, but we competed hard and college hockey is a funny game as one of my counterparts at another school says all the time. I think you’ve got to look at the big picture. If I would’ve told you we’d go five in a row and split with Lake State, you guys would’ve told me I was crazy. So, we’ll get back to work on Monday and get ready for Ferris State.”

Next week’s puck drop against the Bulldogs is set for 6 p.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday in Big Rapids, Michigan.  

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *