GVSU men's DII club hockey overcomes slow start in 3-2 victory over Aquinas
If there is one thing that the Grand Valley State men's club hockey team (Division II) showed in its match against Aquinas College, it’s determination.
After a slow start on the ice, the Lakers came out on fire in the second period and continued their steady play in the third period to beat the Saints 3-2 at Georgetown Ice Arena Friday, Oct. 6.
GVSU (3-0-1) hopped onto the rink and didn’t look ready in the start, as Aquinas got five of the first six shots on goal.
The Lakers struggled to move the puck on the offensive end but showed impressive play on the defensive side. Stout play from defensemen Reede Burnett and Nate Madigan helped contribute, and goalie Jared Maddock had a lot of glove saves out of the gate.
“The defense played well from the start,” Maddock said. “There were lots of shots (on goal) and lots of rebound chances for Aquinas, but our defense stopped them and did a really good job.”
Maddock stood firm in the net for the Lakers, posting 40 total saves on the night.
The first score of the game came from Aquinas, when forward Trent Kulczyk scored with 8:57 left off an assist from Calvin Wojtaszak. The Lakers were not able to respond in the first period and entered the first break in a 1-0 hole.
Despite the rough start, GVSU came out for the second period on a mission: to find their rhythm offensively.
“Making adjustments entering the second period was huge for us,” said GVSU head coach Mike Forbes. “We killed the (Aquinas) momentum in that second period.”
GVSU not only stopped Aquinas' offensive attack to score in the second period, but the Lakers scored two goals of their own. Center Zach Resnick scored four minutes into the period off an assist from forward German Samvel, and forward Tom Carey put in a goal of his own four minutes later. Carey's goal came off assists from forward Austin Koleski and right wing Connor McEvoy.
GVSU looked more excited to play after that rough first period, and the productive second period is arguably what won them the game.
“We had a rough start,” Resnick said. “After that, we came out with more energy, and that turned around the game for us in the second period.”
Aquinas did step up their attack in the third period, tying up the game with 14:38 left in the third period. Right wing Austin Kuch tapped in the goal, with the assist going to forward Ryan Wolfe.
After the score, GVSU’s defense buckled down the rest of the game, not allowing the Saints to score the rest of the night.
With nine minutes left in the game, the go-ahead goal was scored by Samvel, securing the win for GVSU. Forward Danny DeBlouw and defenseman Lucas Little each had an assist on the goal.
The defense, led by Maddock, is what ultimately carried the Lakers to the win.
“Maddock played great in there,” Forbes said. “We didn’t give up a ton of rebounds, and the defense played great, especially after the adjustments we made.”
Both Coach Forbes and Resnick saw Maddock and the defense as the most valuable player (MVP) of the game.
Another key to the win was how they responded to penalties, as they did very well against the power play. The Lakers did commit nine penalties on the night, but their defensive play proved to be crucial, as Aquinas never capitalized on any of their power plays.
“We were on the penalty kill a lot tonight,” Forbes said. “Not allowing Aquinas to score on those is what killed their momentum all night.”
GVSU’s goal for this game was to improve upon their play from last week, and that goal was clearly accomplished.
“We played a lot better today,” Maddock said. “We knew we needed to be better, and it showed.”
That gradual week-to-week improvement is key for this team early in the year, as they are looking to go further down the championship path.
“We have to come out to a faster start,” Forbes said. “We’ll also need to commit less penalties while continuing to stay aggressive.”