By Tom Balog / Wayne State beat writer
Being an optimist, it was a good weekend for both the Wayne State Warriors and Lake Superior State Lakers at the Coliseum in Detroit.
After getting thumped in South Bend last weekend, the Lakers (2-5-1, 0-2-0 CCHA) rebounded nicely and battled to a 3-2 win on Friday night.
The Warriors (1-6-1, 0-2-0 CHA) finally had some bounces go their way and got their first win of the season with a 2-1 squeaker on Saturday night.
“Any time you play a team outside your conference, those are all big games,” Wayne State coach Bill Wilkinson told USCHO’s Matt Mackinder after Friday’s game. “You want to get that recognition for not only your team, but for your league. I think it’s bigger for us playing them than it is for them to come here and play lowly Wayne State. We want to go out and prove ourselves.”
Friday’s opener was a back and forth game with the Lakers drawing first blood with Steven Kaunisto scoring on a 4-on-3 power play, just 2:06 into the game. Kaunisto shot through a crowd and the puck slipped past Warrior goalie Brett Bothwell for the score.
Bryan Olds responded for Wayne State, scoring his first collegiate goal about 10 minutes later. Olds stole the puck in the WSU zone, motored down the ice on a 3-on-2 break and ripped a shot from the top of the left circle off the post and in.
After a scoreless second period, the Lakers converted twice in the third period to take a 3-1 lead.
Troy Schwab gave the Lakers back the lead with a wrister at 4:32. His shot hit Bothwell in the arm, fluttered just over his back and barely rolled over the line for his first of the season.
Leading scorer Nathan Perkovich nabbed the game winner at 10:03 with a slam dunk from just in front of Bothwell.
Tylor Michel added an extra-attacker goal for the Warriors at 19:50 to close out the evening's scoring.
Bothwell ended the evening with 17 saves and on the other end, Pat Inglis stopped 20 of 22 shots.
Lakers head coach Jim Roque also mentioned in the USCHO recap, that his goalie was the key to the win.
“Pat’s been struggling lately and he’s one of the guys we’re leaning on to get going, He made some big saves in the third period (including one of his head) and really showed the intensity we need out of him.”
After a dismal 0-5 effort in game one, the Warriors powerplay came out strong in the series finale with two extra strength goals.
Jon Grabarek opened the scoring at 16:56 of the first period, marking the first time the Green and Gold have scored first in a game all season.
Grabarek took a cross ice pass from defenseman Jeff Caister and one-timed it past a diving Brian Mahoney-Wilson for his second marker of the season.
Jared Katz put the Warriors up by two at 17:06 of the second period. Brock Meadows started the action with a blast from the blueline that missed wide of the net. Tyler Ruel grabbed the rebound and hustled to Katz who poked it in for his first of the season.
The Lakers mounted a furious third period comeback attempt in which they out shot the home team by a 12-1 margin.
Perkovich notched his second goal of the weekend with a powerplay marker at 2:33 of the third. After a Josh Sim shot, Perkovich snatched up the loose puck and rammed it in for his seventh goal of the year.
That was as close as the Lakers would get though as Warriors freshman netminder Kyle Funkehauser slammed the door for the rest of the game to earn his first collegiate win.
Funkenhauser finished the night 24 saves and Mahoney-Wilson stopped 15 on the other end.
The Warriors will try to keep the winning streak alive as they host the Bemidji State Beavers back at the Coliseum next weekend.
The Lakers will head back to the Sault and prepare for two games against the high flying and second-ranked Michigan Wolverines.