Lake Superior State Lakers
The world of hockey is no stranger to dynasties. From the Montreal Canadiens of the 1950s to the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s, certain teams have found a way to consistently dominate the competition year after year. One team that has recently emerged as a force to be reckoned with is the Lake Superior State Lakers. Though not a traditional powerhouse in the world of hockey, the Lakers have risen to prominence in recent years, thanks to a combination of skilled players, strategic coaching, and a winning mentality.
Located in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, Lake Superior State University (LSSU) may not be a household name in the hockey world. However, their Division I men’s hockey program has been making waves in recent years, much to the delight of their fans and alumni. Under the leadership of head coach Damon Whitten, the Lakers have not only achieved success on the ice, but also fostered a strong team culture that has helped them to build a dynasty in the making.
The Rise of the Lakers
The Lake Superior State Lakers first burst onto the scene during the 2018-2019 season, in which they finished with a record of 23-13-2. While they fell short in the NCAA tournament, the team’s success did not go unnoticed. The following year, the Lakers continued to build on their momentum, finishing the regular season with a record of 23-11-4 and qualifying for the NCAA tournament. Though they ultimately fell in the first round, their back-to-back strong seasons had solidified their place as a rising force in college hockey.
Then, in the 2020-2021 season, the Lakers took their game to a whole new level. Despite the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, LSSU dominated the competition with a record of 19-6-3. They won the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) regular season title and clinched their first-ever berth in the NCAA Frozen Four tournament. Though they ultimately fell short in the semifinals, their successful season only solidified their status as a team to be reckoned with.
The Key Players
No team can achieve success without a solid roster of players, and the Lakers have no shortage of talent on their team. Goalie Mareks Mitens, hailing from Ventspils, Latvia, has been a standout player for the Lakers. In the 2020-2021 season, Mitens recorded a .920 save percentage and a 1.74 goals against average, earning him WCHA Goaltender of the Year. Another standout player for the Lakers is senior defenseman and team captain, Collin Saccoman. Not only does Saccoman bring strong defensive skills to the ice, but he also proved to be an offensive threat with 23 points in 25 games during the 2020-2021 season.
In addition to these standout players, the Lakers also have a solid lineup of skilled forwards, including Ashton Calder, Pete Veillette, and Louis Boudon, all of whom finished the 2020-2021 season with over 20 points. With such a well-rounded team, it’s no wonder the Lakers have found success on the ice.
The Power of Team Culture
While talent and skill certainly play a role in the Lakers’ success, their team culture is perhaps their biggest asset. Under the leadership of coach Whitten, the Lakers have cultivated a winning mentality and a strong sense of camaraderie among their players. In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, Coach Whitten emphasized the importance of team culture, stating, our culture here is so strong right now. The guys just pull for each other, and they stick together through thick and thin.
This strong team culture has not only helped the Lakers achieve success on the ice, but it has also helped to build a strong bond among the players. In a sport where teamwork and chemistry are crucial, the Lakers’ close-knit team has been a key factor in their rise to success.
Looking to the Future
As the Lake Superior State Lakers look to the future, there is no doubt that their dynasty is just beginning. With a solid core of players and a strong team culture, the Lakers are poised to continue their dominance in the world of college hockey. And with new recruits joining the team every year, the Lakers show no signs of slowing down.
As hockey fans, we can only anticipate what is to come for the Lake Superior State Lakers. Will they continue their reign as a top team in college hockey? The future is bright for this team, and it is safe to say that the Lakers are a dynasty in the making.