GVSU men's Division II club hockey looks to carry momentum into holiday break
Finals season is upon us, and despite all the stress in the classroom and the days getting colder, there is one thing to look forward to this holiday season: the success of the Grand Valley State men’s Division II club hockey team.
The hockey team has played well so far this season, currently sitting at an impressive 10-3-2 record, placing GVSU in 7th place out of 48 teams in the Central Division in the ACHA.
GVSU has gotten to this record despite the setbacks the team has faced this season, including injuries to about half the team and having to forfeit the first six games due to playing with an ineligible player.
“Forfeiting those games has been our biggest obstacle, and we’ve been able to overcome it,” said GVSU head coach Mike Forbes. “I’m optimistic as to what our future is going to look like.”
The team has shown they can improve in a very short amount of time, and their recent weekend play is proof of that. GVSU got shut out 3-0 at their home rink, the Georgetown Ice Center, against Marian University on Friday, Nov. 17, but the Lakers went on to return the favor the very next day, shutting out Marian by the exact same score of 3-0.
The team's bench players have proven to be critical to GVSU's success this year.
“Our biggest team strength is that we have a lot of depth on our team, as all four of our lines and all of our defense, we’re all pretty trustworthy,” said forward Ryan Hein. “We have players that can do their job in all roles.”
Many players this season have stepped up and contributed to the team’s double-digit win total. One key player this year has been freshman Grant Smith, who was pulled up from the Division III team. He’s already racked up 5 points (one goal and four assists) in the 10 games he’s played.
“His play has been getting better every time he steps on the ice, and he’s showing great improvement from his first game,” Hein said. “He is going to be an outstanding player for us next year.”
Smith isn’t the only player who has stepped up for GVSU with all the injuries. Other key contributors have been sophomore Zach Resnick, freshman German Samvel and senior captain Troy Marrett.
“More than half the team has stepped up at different times with all the injuries we’ve had and penalties keeping us short-handed in some games,” Forbes said. “When we get in those situations, players are able to elevate their games and show that they belong, and that’s helped us out a great deal this year.”
Penalties have been this team’s main area of concern, and they look to buck that trend as the season goes since it's much easier to stay in a hockey game with a man up than a man down.
“We need to work on staying out of the penalty box and being more of a team that gets in people’s heads rather than giving the blows,” Hein said. “If we can work on staying out of the box and finishing our chances around the net, then we’ll have a lot of success this year.”
Despite all the injuries, penalties and forfeits, this team is still in high spirits and has a bit of momentum now, so it’s going to be hard for any team in the Central Division to slow them down.
“We have the potential to go all the way with how we’re playing right now,” Forbes said. “We’re going to have to earn everything we get this year, but I think we can play with any team in the country.”
GVSU looks to keep the puck rolling this weekend with two games at Lindenwood University this weekend. The games are Friday, Dec. 1, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 2, at 4 p.m.