GVSU club women's hockey upset by Michigan State 2-0 in regionals
It was the second time the Lakers were shutout this season
The Grand Valley State women’s club hockey team (15-7-4) lost 2-0 in a defensive battle in round one of the regional playoffs to the Michigan State Spartans Friday, Feb. 24.
The Lakers were 1-0-1 against the Spartans during the regular season, including a convincing 3-1 win at home the last time they played in November.
The No. 3-seeded Lakers would not have the same luck this time around with the stakes much higher at Notre Dame University.
The first period began and ended with no scoring from either team. Shots and scoring chances were relatively even, but the favored Lakers did not look to be playing to their standard.
“The first period we didn’t come out very strong,” said forward and club president Karyn Schmaltz. “We were wondering what we were doing wrong and why things weren’t flowing like they should be.”
The Lakers’ game plan and preparation was hindered throughout the week due to an illness that sidelined multiple coaches and players. GVSU head coach Sean McKernan missed the whole week of practice.
“It was unfortunate timing for that,” McKernan said. “I don’t know if that truly had an impact, but there is only so much you can instruct over the phone and not meeting face-to-face and instructing.”
The Lakers performed better in the second period but had no goals to show for it. With just 26 seconds left in the second period, the Spartans scored a power-play goal to make the score 1-0.
The Lakers squandered a few ideal scoring chances in the second period, sending the puck just wide of the net each time. The primary issue was not generating scoring chances—it was finishing them.
“We didn’t attack the puck as much as we should have to force turnovers in the offensive zone,” McKernan said. “In the defensive zone we were playing a little too passive and they moved the puck around and created scoring opportunities.”
The Lakers were confident they would come back before the Spartans scored less than two minutes into the third period.
“After the first goal we needed to step it up and play with our heart more,” said forward Allison Lowe. “But after the second goal I think we began to give up.”
The Lakers' offense was stagnant in the third period and they were unable to make up the deficit.
“The wind got out of our sails after that second goal went in,” Schmaltz said. “All the momentum shifted towards them.”
The Lakers failed to get on the scoreboard in the third and lost 2-0. This was just the second time all season the Lakers were shut out.
“It was just an off day for everyone, Schmaltz said. “We just all decided to have an off day on a very important game.”
The early elimination from the regional playoffs may harm their chances to qualify for the national tournament.
“We have to leave it up to computer and human voting so you never can tell,” McKernan said. “Do I think we should still be in? Yes.”
The Lakers are waiting anxiously for Tuesday, Feb. 28, when the national tournament seeds are announced.