Hein, Koleski heralded as the future of GVSU hockey
The two D2 hockey players are off to a hot start in the second half of the season
After a rough weekend outing against Miami of Ohio earlier this season, the Grand Valley State Division II club hockey team turned its season around to win their last six games, improving to an impressive 13-4-1 overall record.
A big reason for that recent success has come from two of their up-and-coming stars in sophomore Austin Koleski and late-addition freshman Ryan Hein, who have begun to take a hold of the Lakers' offensive reins.
In the past four games, Koleski has scored seven of his 10 total goals, including a hat trick against Indiana Friday, Jan. 13, while Hein posted his 13 total points (7 goals, 6 assists) in only 10 games.
The Lakers’ first half of the season experienced very little offensive success when their first line of Matt Sherman, Collin Finkhouse and Troy Marrett were off the ice, but head coach Mike Forbes can breathe easy when Hein and Koleski take their shifts.
“These two have been very hot as of lately and have really come into their own true potentials,” Forbes said. “They’re a prime example of players who have bought into the system to make the team—and themselves—better.”
Koleski, a sophomore majoring in health information and management, had a successful freshman season last year (7 G, 6 A), but this season he has already exceeded his total goals scored with 10 in 18 games. A major reason for his improved ability to score has come from his newly altered perspective of how to play the game.
“I’ve played hockey since I was around three of four years old, and right now I feel the most comfortable I’ve ever been on the ice,” Koleski said. “This second year with this team has really taught me to slow my game down and step into the role of being that ‘spark plug’ for the offense.”
Hein’s story the past two years has been unconventional. During his senior year of high school, Hein decided to play junior hockey for the NAHL’s Aberdeen Wings and make the leap to the competitive United States Hockey League, but decided to return back to finish his high school career and enroll at GVSU.
But Hein had no plans of playing hockey at GVSU, until after tryouts when he heard from teammates how fun it was. After calling coach Forbes to skate with the team, Forbes put him on the Division III team to test his skills.
“All I wanted was a shot to make the team, and my line really produced and clicked early,” Hein said. “During one of my better games, assistant coach of the DII team, (Dan Gadbois), took notice of my play and was called up after a series of injuries.”
From that point on, Hein immediately made an impact for the Lakers with his success of moving the puck well and transition from the center position to wing.
Although both Koleski and Hein have been on an offensive tear as of late, both credited their teammates and offensive philosophies for their success.
“After the weekend against Miami of Ohio, we knew we had to improve and keep a positive attitude for the rest of the season,” Koleski said. “We all love hockey, and we now know what’s important to this team, and recently it’s been our ability to share the puck as a unit.”
Hein believes that ability to produce offensive and accept coach Forbes philosophy has come from the support of his teammates when first joining.
“Being the guy that joined late, it was tough to buy into the system and build friendships, but they took me in a felt like I was meant to be there,” Hein said. “We’re playing more for the guy next to us than for ourselves. When you have all the guys with the same mentality it works together.
“I’ve never played on a team with this much fun. We have no cliques, because we play together as one team.”