Luke Morgan finished off a 2-on-1 opportunity past Michigan goalie Jack LaFontaine for the game-winning goal with 2:57 remaining in regulation as Lake Superior State defeated Michigan 3-1 at Yost Ice Arena on Friday night.
The game was a tight defensive affair throughout aside from a 23-second stretch in the second period when Michigan’s Tony Calderone scored, followed quickly by a goal from Lake Superior’s Josh Nenadal.
Late in the third period, the Lakers started to press an advantage for the winning goal. A Laker shot deflected off the inside of the arm of LaFontaine before trickling just wide, followed by a shot off the post just seconds later. The decisive goal would come shortly after when JT Henke broke out of the Lake Superior zone with a 1-on-1 rush. Henke slowed up as he gained the Michigan zone, allowing a streaking Morgan to catch up on the rush. Henke flipped the pass to Morgan. All alone with LaFontaine, Morgan ripped a wrist shot low to the far side for the goal.
Michigan would have one final opportunity when they received a power play with 1:12 remaining. But Gus Correale iced the game with a short-handed empty-net goal for insurance.
The win moves Lake Superior State to 7-6-0 on the season, while Michigan falls to 5-5-1 on the season. The two teams will meet again on Saturday evening to conclude their series.
Notes and Thoughts
-The key match-up in this game was Michigan’s aggressive two-man forecheck vs. Lake Superior’s ability to break that and create opportunities in transition, and as one might guess from the low score, neither team was all that effective.
When Michigan was effective with that forecheck for periods of time. Their one goal tonight was the result of an extended stretch where they had Lake Superior penned in their own end for a long period of time, and eventually earned a power play that they converted on.
Of course, when Lake Superior State was able to break the puck out against that tough forecheck, they were allowed free pass through the neutral zone and had a number of transition opportunities. The Lakers were really sloppy with those all night, until the very end of the game, when JT Henke flipped a perfect pass to Luke Morgan and Morgan converted.
-Michigan did not look good offensively tonight, but honestly, looking at their line-up, it was pretty much expected. It’s kind of amazing how little offensive talent the Wolverines have up front. NHL Draft status isn’t everything, but Michigan dressed two third round NHL picks and a seventh round pick tonight, and that was it. A year after boasting a top power play unit of Kyle Connor, Tyler Motte, and JT Compher, their top power play unit tonight was a line of Adam Winborg, Jake Slaker, and Will Lockwood. Michigan just doesn’t have much offensive talent this year.
-The WCHA has been dreadful in non-conference play all season, but Lake Superior State is now 3-0-0 with tonight’s win and their sweep over Michigan State.
11:51 Tony Calderone from Dexter Dancs and Luke Martin (power play) 1-0 Michigan
Michigan gained the offensive zone with crisp passing on their power play. Martin passed the puck from the left point to Dancs on the right wing. He passed to Calderone in the slot and Calderone slid a quick shot along the ice between the pads of Defiel.
12:14 Josh Nenadal from Gus Correale and Diego Cuglieta 1-1 tie
Shortly after Michigan scored, the Lakers got the puck deep in the Michigan zone. Correale made a quick pass from the right corner to Nenadal just above the right face-off dot and his shot beat LaFontaine.
17:09 Luke Morgan from JT Henke and Mitch Hults 2-1 Lake Superior State
Henke broke the puck out of the Michigan zone with a one-on-one down the left wing. He slowed up as he entered the Michigan zone and flipped a pass to Morgan, who sped into the zone to create a 2-on-1. Morgan fired a low wrist shot to the far side for the goal.
18:57 Gus Correale from Diego Cuglietta (short-handed) (empty net) 3-1 Lake Superior State
Cuglietta and Correale broke the puck out of the Michigan zone on the penalty kill. Cuglietta made one extra pass on a 2-on-1 to get the puck over to Correale for a breakaway on the empty net.