Denver Hockey Series Preview: Lake Superior State

The #2 Denver Pioneers started their season in thrilling fashion with a late game-winning goal from Cole Guttman to win their season opener against Alaska 4-3.  Freshman goaltender Magnus Chrona faced 61 shots in the series and allowed just three goals while shutting out the Nanooks on Saturday.  Denver wasn’t perfect by any means, but there are a lot of positives after the first week of the season for the No. 2 team in the nation.  Senior Liam Finlay had three assists, freshman Bobby Brink scored his first NCAA goal, and the Pioneers were perfect on the penalty kill.  Once Denver gets their power play to jell and they keep their opponents’ shots down, they will be pretty hard to beat.  They face a hot team this weekend on the road when they visit Lake Superior State.

In the News

– The Hockey News’ prospect expert Ryan Kennedy released his Top 100 Players to Watch for in the NCAA in 2019-20.  Three Pioneer players made the list, here is Kennedy’s review of each player:

  • #34 –  Ian Mitchell, D:  “Another Blackhawks draft pick, Mitchell is an ace offensive defenseman who probably could have turned pro. Score one for the Pioneers.”
  • #56 – Slava Demin, D:  “A two-way defenseman who showed well as a freshman, the Vegas pick returns to a solid Pioneers blueline corps.”
  • #61 – Magnus Chrona, G:  “A towering goaltender taking over the Pioneers crease from fellow Swede Filip Larsson, Chrona is a Tampa Bay pick with a lot of talent.”  

– Head coach David Carle was featured this week on USCHO’s Spotlight podcast.  You can listen to the interview here.

– On their way to Sault Ste. Marie Michigan to play Lake Superior State, the Pioneers stopped in Detroit and held a practice at the Detroit Red Wings facility.  By coincidence, a former Pioneer who was playing in Detroit that night came by for a visit.

Photo courtesy of CollegeHockeyInc.com

Lake Superior State Lakers (2-0-0)

The Lakers too started their season off with a sweep when they defeated Merrimack last week 6-2 and 4-3.  They received goals from nine different skaters, scoring ten total goals in the series.  Led by captain Collin Saccoman, the 2019-20 Lakers feature a well-balanced team of playmakers and heavy defensemen.  Although it seems they’re getting scoring throughout the lineup, their top line of Pete Veillette, Hampus Eriksson, and Yuki Miura combined for 11 points in the Lakers’ first two games.  Eriksson had a goal and four assists in what could be a breakout year for the 6’6 junior from Sweden.

Lake Superior State had similar team stats as the Pioneers when it came to special teams.  In the Merrimack series, their powerplay was 1-7 and their penalty kill also went a perfect 7-7.  In their second game of the weekend, Merrimack kept LSSU to under 25 shots and the game was much closer with a final score of 4-3.  The Pioneers will have to do a good job of suppressing shots this week if they want to keep the score low on the road.  The Lakers will have their eye on an upset coming into the series.

It’s also important to note that the Lakers lost a great goaltender when senior Nick Kossoff graduated last season.  Kossoff was 17-8-2 in his final season with the Lakers with a GAA of 2.42 and a save percentage of .918.  It was just two years ago when Lake Superior State visited the Pioneers and Kossoff led the Lakers to a 63 save tie at Magness Arena.  Junior Mareks Mitens will be between the pipes this weekend for the Lakers who is looking to improve on his 6-5 record his sophomore year.

Prediction – Pioneers split

Parity has been a growing storyline in college hockey over the past few years and it appears it’s hitting an all-time high this year, especially when it comes to national rankings. And even in a non-conference game like Denver vs Lake Superior State early in the season, you can catch really good hockey.  Expect this to be competitive with LSSU coming out strong.  With a freshman goaltender and a lot of young Pioneers, this will be an early test of Denver’s resilience.  The Lakers can score and it will be interesting to see if the Pioneers can be the comeback kids again in 2019-20, or if they simply run into a hot hockey club.

Twitter Follow – @HockeyLSSU

Where to Watch/Listen

Friday – 5:30pm MT – tv: FLO HOCKEY (subscription) radio: ESPN Denver 1600

Saturday – 5:30pm MT tv: FLO HOCKEY (subscription) radio: ESPN Denver 1600

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