GVSU DII hockey set for road trip to Lindenwood-Belleville
The Lakers are headed to Missouri after a bye week
GVL / Emily Frye Matt Sherman keeps hold of the puck on Friday Oct. 7, 2016 against Rochester College.
After almost a two-week hiatus, the Grand Valley State Division II men’s club hockey team is going to face one of the tougher opponents in the country over this upcoming weekend.
No. 3-ranked GVSU will play No. 2-ranked Lindenwood University-Belleville away Nov. 4-5. With no home-ice advantage, the team’s focus will need to shift a little.
“Both games being on the road means we need to really be ready from the puck drop,” said GVSU goaltender Spencer Craig. “Belleville isn't going to wait for us to work out the bus legs or wake up from afternoon naps on Friday, so our pregame routine on Friday and Saturday have to be strong and we need to be ready once we step on the ice.”
Last season, Belleville and GVSU split two games, each taking a 2-1 win.
“They played us hard last year at home and made a strong run in the national tournament,” said GVSU captain Alex Ostrowski. “From my understanding, they have not lost many players and are a well-coached team.”
Currently, Belleville holds a 7-2 record and what appears to be a consistent team from top to bottom.
“They have a group of creative players who have been together now for two years since the start of their program,” Craig said. “Their coach recruited well and those guys have gotten to mesh and gel together for two years and they work very well together.”
While the Lakers have six games under their belt and a 4-2 record, the team still finds room for improvement.
“I don’t think anyone is happy with where we are at,” Craig said. “We need to be stronger as a group and more resilient when we face adversity over the course of the game.”
Stringing together a solid 60 minutes has been the mantra of GVSU and after a long break, the team has been staying motivated and preparing for this weekend.
“We understand the challenge ahead, so I think that is motivation enough,” Ostrowski said.” We want to practice like we are playing in a game so bringing more energy and focus to the rink for practice will help us prepare better.”
A lot of the players have started mentally preparing for the weekend ahead. With this preparation and a new, younger team this year, GVSU looks to take it to Belleville.
“We have a much younger team this season,” said defenseman Lucas Little. “Every new player brings a new aspect and skill to our team.”
A younger team usually means a faster team, and Ostrowski said he’s interested to see how his team plays against higher competition.
GVSU will look to get production out of their leading point scorers Collin Finkhouse (10 points), Ostrowski (nine points) and Troy Marrett (eight points). Interestingly, the trio all have two goals or fewer and six assists or more. Matt Sherman (seven points) leads the team in goals with six.
Goaltenders Craig and Jared Maddock, who have been sharing the GVSU net, will most likely get their chance between the pipes over this series. Both goaltenders are 2-1, and Craig leads with 82 saves, while Maddock has 64.
“To combat their goal-scoring, we have to pressure them all over the ice,” Craig said. “They are deadly with time and space, the more we can limit that in each zone, the more successful we will be this weekend.”
Belleville is used to scoring goals in bunches, specifically scoring 17 goals in one game against the University of Michigan DII men’s club hockey team.
“Our team is getting better every practice as we continue to work on our systems,” Little said. “Any challenge that our team is facing, we will face together and overcome it.”