GVSU looks for help to advance in nationals
After two days of action and a bus that caught on fire, the Grand Valley State University men’s club hockey team will have to wait and see to know if they can make a third consecutive title game trip.
GVSU began the journey back to a hopeful third straight American Collegiate Hockey Association National Championship game by beating tenth seeded University of Maryland on Friday afternoon at Hardee’s IcePlex in Chesterfield, MO.
Sophomore Matt Smartt helped lift the Lakers to a 2-1 victory scoring both goals, including one on the power play. Sophomore Brad Wilhelm added assists on both of the Smartt goals, continuing their regular season offensive prowess.
“Probably not our best performance, but a win’s a win and that’s what we came to do,” said senior captain Craig Marrett. “We need to have more jump in our game Saturday. There was something lacking Friday. We just didn’t quite have our mojo going.”
A mental distraction like your bus going up in flames right before a game might have something to do with that. Before Friday’s action, the Lakers team bus caught fire, destroying the vehicle. No one was harmed during the incident, as the bus was unoccupied at the time.
“Our bus caught fire and it was gutted,” said head coach Mike Forbes. “We got past the drama of our bus catching fire, and all the things that go along with that, that get a team off track mentally.”
Many great chances to put the game out of reach were not capitalized on as the Lakers got into penalty trouble throughout the game including a 5-on-3 penalty kill. The Lakers, despite having trouble staying out of the penalty box, were able to persevere over defensive-minded Maryland.
“We played well enough to win Friday, but we were very average in many aspects of our game,” Forbes said. “We outplayed Maryland, but didn’t play well. Only two of the top seeds beat the four seeds yesterday so we dodged a bullet and I’m confident we’ll play better Saturday.”
Saturday afternoon the Lakers faced off against Northeastern University, who lost their opening round match to Arizona State University. Playing a more desperate Northeastern squad, the Lakers were unable to continue their winning ways.
“Northeastern is a tough team,” Forbes said. “They’re a mirror image of us, It comes down to execution and getting the bounces.”
The Lakers carried momentum for most of the game, but came out on the short end, losing 2-1. The loss put a strain on the Lakers’ hopes of a third straight title game trip.
“It was a tough loss,” said senior goaltender Scott Tiefenthal. “We have to win Sunday. It’s a must, and keep the goals against down.”
A potential three-way tie between the Lakers, Northeastern (if they win), and Arizona State looms with the potential tiebreaker being goals against to advance to the semifinal round on Monday.
Northeastern took the control of the game with a power play goal after the defense was caught down low and a lucky bounce would be all they needed to secure their first win of the tournament.
Junior Chad Wilhelm scored the lone goal for the Lakers, his first of the tournament.
The Lakers will look to rebound against Arizona State, 2-0 for the tournament thus far, in their final pool game on Sunday night. The ACHA semi finals begin on Monday with the national championship game played on Tuesday.