There’s a very positive vibe around Erie, Pa., where the Lake Erie Bighorns have begun their USPHL existence with a 4-1-1-1 record.
Head Coach Kyler Speice said that he expected nothing less than the best from his team. They may be new to the USPHL Premier Division, but they put as much stock in the word “expansion” as did the 2017-18 Vegas Golden Knights.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the guys. I’m a competitor myself, and anytime you lose - whether it’s regulation, overtime or shootout - it stings. I don’t like to lose,” said Speice. “If you’re at 75 percent, you’ve gotten 75 percent of your points, so I look at it that way. We’ve only lost once in regulation, once in the shootout and once in overtime. The work the players are putting in for me and for the organization is something that is really special.”
The Bighorns’ USPHL existence began Sept. 13 with a 3-1 win at home against another new team, the Columbus Mavericks. The Mavericks defeated Lake Erie in OT the next night, and then the Bighorns won a home-and-home series with the Pittsburgh Vengeance, once in the shootout and once in OT.
Goaltenders Hunter Meyette and Elias Lindvall have gotten a lot of credit for the Bighorns’ strong start. Meyette is a ‘99 from Erie, also home to the Bighorns.
“You look at your local guys who haven’t gotten a lot of opportunities, and you wonder, but right away, Hunter stole us a game in Pittsburgh, posting 53 saves and giving up just one goal in a shootout,” said Speice.
While Meyette is a local product, Lindvall (also a ’99) has traveled more than 4,000 miles as the crows and airplanes fly, from Pietersaari, Finland.
“He’s gone 1-1, and they’ve been an unbelievable tandem - they support each other, and are just unbelievable teammates,” Speice added. “They get it.”
The Bighorns start October with their toughest test yet, the 5-1-0-0 Toledo Cherokee, who were leading the Great Lakes Division at press time.
One weekend later, over Columbus Day Weekend, they’ll make the trip to Fraser, Mich., where at the Detroit Showcase, they will face Midwest East opponents the Metro Jets Development Program (MJDP), Midwest Blackbirds, Motor City Hockey Club and the Detroit Fighting Irish. They finish October with two games in Lansing before resting over a bye week to end the month.