Women’s club hockey ready to hit its stride

By Bryce Derouin | 1/9/13 6:40pm

In their first season with new faces leading the program, the Grand Valley State University women’s club hockey program has had a smooth transition adjusting to their new head coaches.

Cory Whitaker started the program in 2006 and served as the school’s head coach during his time at GVSU. Whitaker stepped down from his post before this season and took a full-time goaltenders coaching position at Lindenwood (Mo.) University.

Darrell Gregorio and Sean McKernan, who served as assistants under Whitaker, were appointed as co-head coaches for the 2012-2013 season.

“It wasn’t much of a change because we had Sean and Darrell as our coaches before,” said junior Alisha Day. “Sean was the forwards coach, so now with them being head coaches, there’s no difference for us. For the freshmen, they didn’t really know any different and (Darrell and Sean have) taken complete control of the team and we trust in them. So it’s worked out well.”

GVSU jumped out to a respectable 10-7-1 record before the winter break. The Lakers dropped three games by one goal, and they hope that they’ve learned from their narrow defeats.

“Even though we lost those close games, it shows that all the effort we’ve been putting in has paid off,” said senior Lauren Walsh. “They are crappy games to lose, but it gives everyone more drive and motivation to start winning those games.”

The Lakers have shown flashes of their potential throughout the season. GVSU would like to see more consistency in the final stretch of the season.

“We’ve been playing really well,” said head coach Sean McKernan. “We’ve just had moments of inconsistency throughout a game that have led to a couple of our defeats throughout the year. We’re still looking to put up a full 60 minutes together.”

Senior Shelby Kucharski leads the Lakers in points this season, tallying 17 points on the season thus far. Freshmen Katie Danto and Day are the leading goal scorers for GVSU, with each scoring ten goals on the season.

As the season has worn on, the Lakers have gained more chemistry throughout the year.

“We’ve gotten accustomed to playing with each other,” Day said. “Now everyone knows where people are going to be on the ice. We’re used to the skating styles of everybody, knowing the plays, and where everyone’s going to be. Now we just have to tie it all together to finish the rest of the season strong.”

GVSU’s last game was a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Adrian College on Dec. 9. Their next game won’t be until Jan. 19 when they take on the University of Wisconsin-Madison. However, the coaches feel confident that their team won’t be affected by the long layoff when their season resumes.

“The girls do a pretty good job of skating when they’re not here on campus,” McKernan said. “We’re ahead of schedule of where I thought we’d be. We have a few practices before our first game and I think we’ll be right on point when the puck drops. If we play our style of game, we have a good chance of winning every game we play.”

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