GVSU D2 hockey focusing on resolutions for second half of season

The Lakers ended 2016 11-4-1, hope to improve in new year

By Robbie Triano | 1/8/17 8:30pm

GVL / Emily Frye Collin Finkhouse waits for the puck to drop on Friday Oct. 7, 2016 against Rochester College.
by Emily Frye and Emily Frye / The Lanthorn

As 2016’s chapter—finally—comes to a close, 2017 opens the new year for students to set high hopes and create resolutions for self-improvement.

The same goes for Grand Valley State’s Division II men’s hockey team as they reflect on the first semester’s successes, but look to resolve major issues in their offense moving forward in the new year.

The Lakers ended 2016 and the first half of its season with an 11-4-1 record, a surprise to most due to its very young roster of 17 combined freshmen and sophomores. Even head coach Mike Forbes had qualms that their youthful roster would possibly struggle early on, but has been pleasantly surprised with his underclassmen and their ability to fulfill leadership roles.

“We got a whole roster of talented new players, but the biggest concern was if they were going to be confident enough to step into leadership roles,” Forbes said. “Our captains can only do so much to lead during games and practices, but slowly and surely they have turned up the intensity to push each other to become better.”

One shining star for the Lakers is senior Collin Finkhouse, who leads the team in total points, goals scored, and assists (10 G, 14 A). Finkhouse has excelled so far at creating goal-scoring opportunities for his teammates, but has shocked his teammates, and even himself, at his success at finding the back of the net.

“It’s a lot of fun playing with my line (consisting of Matt Sherman and Troy Marrett) because of how skilled they are at shooting and how unselfish they are,” Finkhouse said. “Everyone on the team knows I pass more because I don’t have the best shot, but I’ve learned when to pass or when to shoot as a playmaker and it has been working for me.”

The biggest source of production for the Lakers has come from Finkhouse’s line of Sherman (7 G, 6 A) and Marrett (5 G, 6 A), combining for 48 total points and 22 goals.

But besides the success of their reliable first-line play, the other lines have struggled to deliver that same type of production, which has been a major point-of-emphasis moving forward from coach Forbes.

“It’s obvious that they’re our best line and have to be, but when they’re off the ice we need to see players step up and carry that offensive load,” Forbes said.

Although this team has experienced early success, the consensus from players and coaches was that they’ve only showed glimpses of their true potential.

The Lakers have struggled to stay consistent production and effort wise, which was highlighted during a weekend series against Lindenwood earlier this season. The Lakers captured game one with a score of 5-3, scoring all five goals in the second period, but showed a lack of effort the first and last period, and in the next game which resulted in a 3-1 loss.

Another underlying issue for the Lakers is their time spent in the penalty box. The team has combined for a total of 293 penalty minutes, highlighted by freshman Ryker Barber’s team leading 48 penalty minutes.

Freshman standout Matt Sherman is guilty with a total of 41 penalty minutes, but realizes that in order for the Lakers to make a deep playoff run they need to stay out of the box and on the ice.

“Plain and simple, we play our best when we’re unselfish and not taking too many penalties,” Sherman said. “Taking ourselves out of the game is not what we need because we play such a team oriented game.

“Once we correct these mistakes, we’re a very solid team on offense and defense.”

GVSU will have its first taste of competition since Dec. 17 during a weekend series at Indiana University (6-10) Jan. 13-14 to get a head start on their new year’s resolutions and the first step before Regional Tournaments, which begin Feb. 25.

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