D2 hockey closes out regular season with two wins
The Lakers will compete in the national tournament starting March 15
The Grand Valley State men’s club hockey team (Division II) can be proud to say they finished the regular season with a record of 22-4-3 after sweeping its final weekend series against Davenport.
The Lakers won the first game in a back-and-forth 5-4 victory Friday, Feb. 17, while completing the sweep the next day with a 7-4 victory to close out the season.
GVSU found itself shorthanded the whole weekend after offensive weapon Troy Marrett suffered a concussion during the first game, while breakout star Ryan Hein continued to recover from a concussion he suffered against Southern Illinois. Coach Mike Forbes was pleased with his team rebounding from those injuries against a tough Davenport offense.
“Both Marrett and Hein are a major focal point of our offensive scheme, so for our team to rally and pick up the slack showed how solid this team is all around,” Forbes said.
GVSU needed to win this weekend in order to clinch the No. 2 spot in the Central Division and get an automatic bid into the national tournament.
The first game saw the two teams exchanging goals until the final period. Davenport scored early in the third to take a 4-3 lead, but the Lakers didn’t give in as they scored two unanswered goals by Collin Finkhouse and Daniel Smith to make the score its final of 5-4.
“It was a dogfight to get that ‘W’,” Finkhouse said.
Other goal scorers for the Lakers on Friday were Cameron Dyde, Marrett and Ryker Barber.
Saturday’s game started exceptionally for the Lakers, as they ended the first period with a 4-1 lead. However, that lead gave the Lakers too much confidence as they became sloppy with their opportunities, letting Davenport crawl back in the game. By the end of the second period, GVSU only led 5-4.
“It looked like the guys’ minds were on other things as they seemed to just already put their focus on the national tournament,” Forbes said. “Davenport has a quick strike type of offense, and we tried to get too fancy with the puck on offense giving them the opportunities they needed to get back into the game.”
Luckily, the Lakers regained their focus as Austin Koleski scored GVSU’s sixth goal of the night. Daniel Smith sealed the deal by scoring a shorthanded empty net goal to give the score its final of 7-4 to close out the season.
GVSU’s focus has now been shifted for preparing for the national tournament Wednesday, March 15, leaving the Lakers with three weeks to practice and get its main players back to normal health. Coach Forbes has been no stranger to the national tournament as GVSU hasn’t missed it since the 2005-2006 season.
“We can take care of some challenges we faced in the defensive zone and our power play situations. It should be a great break for us without having too much rust going into nationals,” Forbes said. “The biggest thing is managing the emotions of being at nationals. We want to make sure the highs aren't too high and the lows aren't too low.
“If we get scored on first, it feels like our walls are crashing down on you. It’s a matter of putting in the effort and having the confidence of not letting the emotions take over the way you play.”