GVSU hockey players return from European tour
Three Lakers compete overseas for ACHA Selects during break
GVL / Courtesy
After traveling to nine different cities in 10 days, the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division II Select team returned home from its tour of Europe. The team finished with three wins and two losses in the five games played overseas.
Grand Valley State’s Nick Schultz, Corbin Rainey and Reede Burnett, along with head coach Mike Forbes, represented the Lakers in the European tour.
The trip started in Albany, New York, where the team met and practiced for two days before leaving for Norway. With only two days to prepare, the 23 players from 15 different schools found chemistry with each other in a short period of time.
“After the two practices in New York, we already felt like we were a team,” Schultz said.
Schultz found effective flow with his linemates, tallying two assists to go along with a goal during the trip.
After arriving in Norway, the Selects faced off against a couple of Norwegian professional teams. The opening game came against the Tonsberg Vikings, as the Selects lost 5-3. The Selects were down one goal nearing the end of the third period, but an empty-net goal from the Vikings put the game out of reach. The Selects saw better results in the second game, snagging a 4-3 overtime victory over the Halden Comets.
The quick transition to an Olympic-style hockey rink, (15 feet wider than regulation size rinks in the U.S.), may have been a factor in the slow start.
“It was a little bit of a transition to a bigger rink,” Rainey said. “The teams over there play on that size rink every game and they have an understanding of how to use every inch of the ice.”
Rainey finished the trip with two goals, one of which was a game-winning goal. He was a strong contributor on penalty kills and fighting for loose pucks, which makes his worth to a team hard to quantify.
“He was a very hard worker and I think his teammates learned to appreciate what he brings to the table as the trip went on,” Forbes said.
After a New Year's Eve celebration in Berlin, the team traveled just south of Berlin to Liepzig to play a European University Hockey League (EUHL) Select team, which was composed similar to the ACHA Selects. In the battle of the Selects, the ACHA prevailed 5-3.
The trip moved onto Budweis, Czech Republic, where the Selects played their best competition of the trip, playing against HC David Servis, a top professional team in the Czech Republic, which boasted a 15-0 record and had outscored opponents 110-32 heading into the game.
The Selects were able to compete for two periods, being down 4-2, but HC David Servis pulled away in the third, ultimately winning the game 10-2.
The Selects didn’t let the loss affect the rest of the trip. The team bounced back in Prague for its final game, beating another EUHL Select team 3-2 as the ACHA defense shined.
Burnett played solid defensively all trip according to Forbes. The GVSU junior finished the trip with one assist on the offensive side of the puck, but contributed mostly in the defensive zone.
Forbes was proud of the way his team played, finishing with a 3-2 record. This was his second trip to Europe as head coach of the ACHA Selects.
“The teams that we played against were higher caliber than the teams we have played against in previous years,” Forbes said. “I was happy with the way we competed.”
The trip was not all about hockey. The team toured several different European cities, which made it a unique experience for many of the players and coaches.
“The experience outside of hockey, just forming a bond with the guys and experiencing the different cultures was almost more important than the hockey,” Rainey said.
“I think for everybody involved, it was a trip of a lifetime,” Forbes said.