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Special teams battle buries Lakers in conference opener

A pair of power play goals were the difference as Lake State dropped a tight contest with Minnesota State
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It wasn’t the start they were hoping for as the Lake Superior State. Lakers opened Western Collegiate Hockey Association conference action on home ice on Friday night.

Facing one of the top teams in college hockey, the Lakers dropped a 3-0 decision Friday at Taffy

The game came down to special teams with the Mavericks scoring twice with the power play in the contest.

Minnesota State junior forward Julian Napravnik opened the scoring in the game with a power play goal at 8:28 of the second period.

The veteran found himself with room in the right faceoff circle and beat Lakers senior goaltender Mareks Mitens glove side on a feed from sophomore Cade Borchardt near the side of the Lakers goal.

Sophomore Nathan Smith had the other power play goal for the Mavericks, scoring an empty net goal with one minute to go in regulation time.

“They win the special teams battle tonight and that’s the difference in the hockey game,” Lakers coach Damon Whitten said in a post-game interview on the Lakers radio broadcast on YesFM. “We’ve got to come up with that penalty kill there. They made a great play there and Mits had no chance on that. They get the lead and we’re not able to cash in on the power play. We generated a few good looks and had a few opportunities, but not enough on our power play.”

The Lakers finished the night 0-for-6 on the man advantage.

At even strength, Whitten was pleased with the Lakers play at the defensive end, adding that the team struggled to generate chances at times.

“I thought, at five-on-five, we did a pretty good job,” Whitten said. “We defended well. We didn’t generate enough, but that’s a credit to (Minnesota State) and the way they play and how deep they are and how quick they get on you. We’ve got to find a way to create more offence and get to (Dryden) McKay a little bit more.”

McKay made 23 saves for Minnesota State for the shutout.

Junior defenceman Wyatt Aamodt had the other goal for Minnesota State, scoring on a point shot that deflected past Mittens off a Lakers stick on its way to the net with 2:18 to go in the second period.

Mittens made 24 saves for the Lakers.

The weekend series is set to wrap up on Saturday night at Taffy Abel Arena in a 5 p.m. puck drop.