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Monday, April 16, 2007

Jakaitis named Lakers' MVP... again

Goaltender Jeff Jakaitis was named Lake Superior State's first four-time most valuable player during the 25th annual Soo BlueLiners Banquet held Saturday at the Cisler Center.

Former Laker Steve Mulholland is LSSU's only three-time MVP (1980, '82 and '83), and five players are two-time winners. Jakaitis (pictured) shared the MVP award with Nathan Ward in 2005.

Jakaitis will leave LSSU with a top-10 national ranking in career save percentage, and his consistency throughout the last four years has led to nine school records: career shutouts (10), career games played (125), career save percentage (.925), single-season saves (1,059), single-season save percentage (.933), fewest goals allowed in a season (43), most saves in a series (91), CCHA career saves (2,485) and CCHA career save percentage (.926). He finished second in career saves with 3,446.

The assistant captain and three-time Central Collegiate Hockey Association Scholar-Athlete carries a 3.47 grade point average while majoring in business. This season, he finished second in the nation in save percentage at .931 and helped lead the Lakers to a 21-19-3 record and their first CCHA Playoff semifinal appearance at Joe Louis Arena since 1996.

Other special awards were presented to sophomore forward Josh Sim (Gay Blade), defenseman Simon Gysbers and forward Nathan Perkovich (Outstanding Freshmen), freshman forward Pat Aubry (Jim Howie Unsung Hero and Most Improved Player), sophomore forward Troy Schwab (Most Valuable Forward), junior Derek A. Smith (Most Valuable Defenseman), junior forward Dan Eves (Soo BlueLiner Award) and junior forward Jason Blain (Scholar-Athlete).

Schwab tied for first on the team in total points with 30 and led the Lakers in assists with 24. He totaled the most assists by a Laker since NHL standout Bates Battaglia totaled 27 assists in 1996-97. He also served as an assistant captain this season.

Smith doubled his point total from his first two collegiate seasons and finished second in the CCHA in points by a defenseman. He earned All-CCHA Second Team honors this season and was a finalist for the CCHA's Best Offensive Defenseman Award. He was also among the Laker leaders in total points with 10-20--30.

Gysbers and Perkovich tied in team voting for the Outstanding Freshman Award. Gysbers totaled 4-8--12 and finished second among Laker defenseman in plus/minus at plus-5. The highlight of his season was the Lakers' three-game CCHA Playoff First-Round series against Ferris State, during which he scored a goal in all three games. Perkovich enjoyed a six-game goal-scoring streak during the first half of the season and scored three goals during the Lakers' season finale against Michigan State. He became the first Laker to record a hat trick since 1999. He was one of the Lakers' top two goal scorers and finished sixth on the team in overall scoring with 15-7--22. He was also a two-time CCHA Rookie of the Week.

The Jim Howie Unsung Hero Award is a new award established by the coaching staff and Soo BlueLiners. It is named in honor of Jim Howie, who has volunteered as LSSU's video specialist for 17 years. Howie has also volunteered his time to do several special projects for the Department of Athletics during the past two decades. The hand-made puck racks he has annually given to the seniors are among the former players' most treasured keepsakes.

Aubry, who is the recipient of the first Unsung Hero Award, made his presence known in the faceoff circle. He won an impressive 20 faceoffs during the series against Michigan and was 65-66 in the circle during the playoffs. He totaled 3-2--5 this season.

Sim maintained a great attitude while battling through a nagging shoulder injury throughout the season and was one of the Lakers' top two goal scorers. He finished fifth on the team in overall scoring with 15-11--26.

Eves is known for his physical play and totaled 6-8--14 this season. He is expected to make a complete recovery from a leg injury he suffered during the Lakers' final game against Michigan State.

Blain is one of three LSSU student-athletes with a 4.0 grade-point average. He is a finance and economics major and will be receiving the Hantz Financial Scholarship, working as an intern at Hantz Financial this summer.

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