UMass ends GV shutout streak at four games
Courtesy / Michelle McKernan
Senior forward Alisha Day (14)
The Grand Valley State University women’s club ice hockey team closed out the fall semester on a wave of winter winning.
GVSU had not only posted a pair of back-to-back victories over Davenport University and Ohio State University in less than four weeks, but it also hadn’t surrendered a single goal in any of the four games.
As the fall semester came to a close, however, so did the shutout streak.
The Lakers hosted the University of Massachusetts on Friday night but failed to overcome a slow start, and the winning streak became a thing of the past with a 4-1 loss.
“We never worry about winning. It’s all about the process and how we’re playing,” GVSU head coach Sean McKernan said. “You don’t like to lose but as long as we’re playing to the best of our abilities you can’t take anything away from that.”
It was the first time the team had tasted defeat since Nov. 17, dropping its record to 11-5.
The loss wasn’t so serious in the grand scheme of things, though, as the encore performance proved to be much more profitable.
Liberty University made the trip in from Lynchburg, Va., in an attempt to hand the Lakers their second loss in as many nights, and 11 seconds into the game, the Lady Flames were already making a strong bid to do so.
Freshman defenseman Marissa Graham swooped in from her blue-line position to bang home an errant rebound just outside of the crease to give Liberty the immediate lead.
The team did not score again.
GVSU combined a strong goaltending performance with a timely offensive attack to topple the Lady Flames 2-1 and put up January’s first ‘W.’
Late in the first period, freshman forward Allison Lowe spun from her knees and whipped the puck at the net, finding a hole between the pads of Liberty netminder Kristina Toppazzini for GVSU’s first goal.
Both teams were held scoreless, despite numerous power-play chances, until sophomore forward Kendra Myers snapped a game-winning wrister that bounced off Toppazzini’s glove and into the back of the net with less than four minutes to play in the contest.
“Today we played great. We were talking, passing and moving the puck well,” senior goaltender Karen Sloboda said. “We weren’t getting down after penalties. … We were just very excited to play today.”
The excitement doesn’t stop there, as the Lakers will complete the home-stand trifecta when Michigan State University visits on Jan. 18 for the first half of a home-and-home set.
GVSU will then travel to East Lansing to once again square off against the Spartans — the team’s toughest rival season after season.
The games will be crucial, but Myers said there is no reason to come out with trepidation.
“Coming back from a long break is always a challenge, but having this win under our belts says that we can do it,” she said. “We know what we need to do to be successful, and going into next weekend, we just need to continue that.
“We have to believe, be strong, focused and just ready to pull out a few more wins. I think anything is possible with this team.”