by Eric Balnar

Here’s a run down of things you need to know about the mens team big weekend home and home with the Nipissing Lakers. Both games can be watched on SSN Sports.

SCHEDULE
Friday – @Nipissing, 7pm
Saturday – @Carleton, 5pm

TEAM PROFILE
Nipissing Lakers (4-4-2, seventh in the OUA East)

Top Scorers:
Dan Watt (10gp, 8 goals, 5 assists)
Andrew Marcoux (10gp, 7 goals, 5 assists)                                                                                                                                                                                   Ryan Maunu (10gp, 2 goals, 8 assists)

Top Goalies:
Billy Stone   (4gp, 2.65 GAA, .930 sv%)
Matt Hache  (4gp, 3.51 GAA, .907sv%)

Season so far: A .500 start for the Lakers isn’t actually so bad. They only had one win in their first six, and two of their four regulation losses have been against the No. 2 ranked McGill Redman. They just had a three game winning streak snapped so they’ll be looking to bounce back in a big way against Carleton.

GAME TIME

Top 3 Things to Watch
1. Joe Pleckaitis – He hasn’t been in action all season, but when he has he’s been fantastic. With a goal and six helpers in just five games he is always a scoring threat. The first year Ravens forward is a Boston Bruins prospect and spent time at training camp earlier this fall. He has been hurt for the first part of the season but now he’s back in the line up. Coach Marty Johnston slotted him on the top like last weekend with Hayes and Berard. It will be interesting to see if the top line can continue its rhythm. Berard has shown he can be a pure goal scoring threat (10 this season) so if he and Plecks can develop some sort of chemistry, this will be one of the most talented lines in the OUA.

2. Penalties, Penalties, Penalties – Through the first eight games of the year the Ravens were one of the least penalized teams in the OUA. Last weekend, however, this all fell apart as Carleton took 16 penalties in 2 games. Their PK was solid though, and were able to escape with two wins. But Nipissing has one of the best powerplay units in the country, converting 28% of their opportunities. If the Ravens are going to win the weekend series they must be more disciplined

3. Ravens Mustaches – The team has jumped fully on board with Movember. If you get the chance to check out a game this weekend keep an eye out for who has the most hair

Top 2 Ravens Advantages
1. Ravens Shots – Most games this year the Ravens have dramatically outshot their opponent. Forward Tim Taylor says the coaching staff challenges them to get 35 a game.

2. Goaltending - Matthew Dopud has been incredible in net this far. He started the last seven games and earned five wins, with a stellar 1.66 GAA and .929 SV%. These numbers put him as one of the best, if not the best, goalies in the OUA. Even if Carleton’s forwards have an off night Dopud should be there to bail them out.

Top Two Disadvantages
Road Play - Carleton has not been impressive on the road this year. They only have two away victories but one was basically a home game at uOttawa. The team just seems to be a little lethargic on the road. Meanwhile, Nippising is 3-1 at home and has only lost to McGill. The game will be tough for the Ravens. They have ten hours of travel today, a 7pm puck drop, then they have to make their way back to the ice house tomorrow for the rematch. Not easy – especially as a weak road team against a strong home opponent.

Lakers’ Momentum - Playing two road games in Quebec is no easy task. Last weekend the Lakers went to Quebec to play Trois-Rivieres (UQTR) and McGill – two of the most talented offensive teams in the country. The Lakers grabbed some much-needed momentum, beating UQTR 3-2 and held a 3-1 lead against the undefeated McGill Redman. We’ll see if they can carry this over this weekend against another tough opponent.

Other Notes…
– Nipissing Captain Brodie Beard returns back to Ottawa this weekend. He is a former Carleton Raven and was a member of the team in 2007-08. But Beard transferred two seasons ago to be a part of the re-launched hockey program in Nipissing. He has six assists in nine games so far.

- Battle of the babies – Both of these programs are young. Carleton is just in its fourth year of its hockey program and Nipissing is in its second. Things are looking up so far for the Lakers and I imagine they hope to continue a rise similar to Carleton and try to crack the top 10. Two weekend victories for the program would be huge.

PREDICTION:
Friday: Nipissing 3, Carleton 2 (OT)
Saturday: Carleton 3, Nipissing 1