HANCOCK - After an 8-1 drubbing to open the season at the hands of Wisconsin-River Falls, Finlandia men's hockey coach John McCabe spent the week preaching "60 minutes" of effort to his young team.
And Friday, FU fans at the Houghton County Arena saw why.
The Lions took a two-goal lead in the first five minutes against No. 7 Milwaukee School of Engineering, but were outscored 6-1 the rest of the contest (with an empty netter) for a 6-3 loss to open Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association play.
Finlandia forward Shigenobo Kakudate digs the puck away from the boards against Milwaukee School of Engineering Friday night. Kakudate, a freshman, finished with a goal and two assists.
"There was a lot of good things out there, a lot of good things," McCabe said. "But again we have to learn how to play a full 60. ... Milwaukee ramped up the intensity in the second and then another notch in the third and we didn't match it."
The same issues that led to the blowout at River Falls - and really, the 1-12 start last season - cropped up again against the Raiders.
Of the six goals, three came off rebounds not cleared away from net, including two in a span of less than three minutes midway through the third period with the game tied at three-all. MSOE's Evan Wilson put away the winner 11 minutes into the final stanza when he was allowed to follow his own shot unimpeded and slap the puck past FU goaltender Cedrik LaFrance. Raider forward Kyle Smith followed suit 2:16 later, crashing the net and banging home a failed clearance attempt.
MSOE 1 1 4 - 6
Finlandia 2 0 1 - 3
First period - 1, FU, Shigenobo Kakudate 1 (Warren Webster) 1:05; 2, FU, Justin Scott 1 (Mike Montrose, Kakudate), 5:09; 3, MSOE, Jordan Keizer 2 (Cody Ganchar, Bradley Tierney), 11:48. ... Penalties - none.
Second period - 4, Kevin LoGiudice 3 (Kevin Medina, Evan Wilson), 5:35. ... Penalties - MSOE, LoGiudice (high sticking), 9:07; FU, Ryan Daavettila (slashing), 13:17.
Third period - 5, MSOE, Casey Moneer 1 (Mike Pao), 1:00; 6, FU PP, Montrose 1 (Scott, Kakudate), 4:49; 7, MSOE, Wilson 1 (Medina, Devin Schmitt), 11:12; 8. MSOE, Kyle Smith 1 (Michael Thompson, Austin Grosvenor, 13:28; 9, MSOE EN, Jordan Keizer 3, 19:27. ... Penalties - MSOE, Nathan Brunk (holding), 3:12; MSOE, Ryan Peterson (indirect contact to head), 17:19.
Goalies - MSOE, Nick Kohn (20 shots, 17 saves); FU, Cedrik LaFrance (33 shots, 28 saves).
"There was just a lack of coverage in front of the net," McCabe said. "We just have to be better in our defensive zone. We have to play tougher."
The defeat was all the more disappointing as Finlandia jumped out to a dream start in their first home contest of the season.
Freshman forward Shigenobo Kakudate - a Tokyo native who played juniors in Chicago - put FU on the scoreboard with a quick shot from the slot 63 seconds into the game. Kakudate picked up an assist four minutes later when his centering pass/shot from the endline was pushed in by Justin Scott.
"Shiggy is very good, and he is getting better every day," McCabe said. "We knew he was going to be a little fireplug, but as freshman coming in, it is how quick will their game translate to the college level? It just so happens that he has adapted quite well."
MSOE gathered itself well after the Kakudate onslaught though, and had the scored tied by the start of the third period.
Casey Moneer then put the visitors up 3-2 exactly one minute into the final period with a wrap-around score that was too quick for LaFrance.
In a positive sign of mental toughness, Finlandia evened the contest four minutes later when defenseman Mike Montrose scored from the blue line with sharp wrist shot on a power play. It was a strong response after conceding three in a row and a culmination of excellent man-advantage play, a point of emphasis this week for McCabe.
"I thought we were really good on the power play tonight," McCabe said of the team's 1-for-3 effort. "We moved the puck well and put pucks on net."
Wilson and Smith ruined the comeback attempt, however, and left Finlandia 0-2 to start the season with 14 goals allowed.
With the second leg against MSOE today at 4 p.m., McCabe said it will be a game-time decision for who starts in net.
"I thought (LaFrance) played well. You can't fault him on most of those goals as they were puck management issues or coverage issues," McCabe said.