GVSU women’s hockey gears up for the playoffs

GVL/Bo Anderson

Katie Danto brings the puck down the wing during a previous matchup at Georgetown Ice Arena.

GVL/Bo Anderson Katie Danto brings the puck down the wing during a previous matchup at Georgetown Ice Arena.

Bryce Derouin

It’s now or never for the Grand Valley State University women’s club hockey team.

GVSU will put their season on the line when they travel to Flint to take part in the Central Collegiate Women’s Hockey Association league playoffs. The Lakers enter the playoffs with a 12-11-2 record. GVSU is 0-4-1 in their last five games, but remain optimistic as they enter postseason play.

“I think right now we’re playing some of our best hockey,” said co-head coach Sean McKernan. “We haven’t seen the results that we wanted, but we’re definitely playing the caliber of hockey that is needed for us to be successful and win games.”

GVSU will take on the University of Michigan, Miami (OH) University, and Ohio State University in pool play on Saturday. The Lakers have already had success against these three opponents in the regular season, defeating each team at least once, and compiling a cumulative record of 4-2 against those opponents.

“It does make us confident,” said senior captain Meghan Jahn about the prospect of playing teams they have previously defeated. “I think we’re excited knowing how they play and having film on them. We’re going to try not to come in too overconfident, but I think we’re ready to play.”

Depending upon the Lakers performance this weekend, they may be able to extend their season past this weekend. The GVSU women have their eyes set on the national tournament.

“Our performance this weekend determines if we’re going to nationals or not,” said senior Shelby Kucharski. “I think we have a lot of pressure on us more than excitement at this point.

We need to put together a full 60 minutes instead of just playing well two periods or one.”

Kucharski, along with junior Alisha Day and freshman Katie Danto, led the Lakers in scoring with 20 points each in the regular season.

The top two teams from each pool will move onto the semifinals. Endurance could play a key role in the outcome of games since pool play consists of three games over two days, and if GVSU makes it to the championship, it would be five games in three days.

“Going in, knowing that we had success, we know what we need to do as far as our system to be successful against them,” McKernan said. “As long as we can continue to work hard, and work as a five-man system, and not take any shifts off, we should be right in every game. It’ll give us a good opportunity to win every game to get us in the championship game.”

The Lakers will look to have everyone on the same page this weekend. Coach McKernan believes his team can’t afford to focus on the things that go wrong.

“We need to block out all the negatives, focus on the positives and what works,” McKernan said. “If something goes wrong, forget about it and move on and not dwell on anything negative towards the game that affects us in any way. It’s a quick game out there, so we have to stay as mentally sharp as we can. We’re a much better team when we have all five skaters out there working together.”
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