GVSU women’s hockey team comes up short and awaits their fate

GVL/Bo Anderson

Katie Danto

Bo Anderson

GVL/Bo Anderson Katie Danto

Pete Barrows

Play opened on Friday for the 2013 Central Collegiate Women’s Hockey Association championship tournament in the Flint Iceland Arena. The tournament pitted eight teams from the league against each other.

No. 3 seed Grand Valley State University drew No. 2, the University of Michigan first and took them down with a 2-1 score. The Lakers next defeated No. 7 Miami (OH) University 2-0.

On Saturday morning, No. 5 Ohio State University presented a bit more difficulty. GVSU, who scored three times in the first ten minutes of play, got off to a fast start. Penalties in the second period allowed the Buckeyes to re-enter the competition and another short-handed goal with less than five minutes to play in the third period evened the score. The game ended in a 3-3-overtime tie.

“We had a lapse against Ohio State in the second (period) where we took our foot off the gas having a three nothing lead and allowed them to get two goals,” said Grand Valley State co-head coach Sean McKernan.

2-0-1 in pool play advanced the Lakers to the tournament semifinals where they met the top seeded and defending CCWHA champion Robert Morris University (IL). In the four previous meetings this season, GVSU had no wins against the team.

After killing four penalties in the first period, GVSU and the game settled into a back and forth standoff.

Still locked in a scoreless tie after 60 minutes of play, the Lakers skated into their second overtime of the day. The Colonials scored with only 2:28 left in the extra period and GVSU came up short.

The American Collegiate Hockey Association national tournament will take place on Mar. 7-10 near Washington, D.C. Only the top eight seeds from the division advance, the lone exception being the automatic bid presented to the winner of the CCWHA league final.

No. 4 seeded Michigan State University squared off against Robert Morris in the Sunday morning finals. The Spartans won 1-0, winning the tournament and receiving the bid – which GVSU had hoped to obtain.

Coming into the tournament ranked No. 8 in the coach’s poll, GVSU still has an outside chance, but will require a favorable vote to make the ACHA guest list.

“Right now it’s a waiting game,” said junior goalkeeper Karen Sloboda, who started in three of the four tournament games. “Everyone feels good because we played our hearts out this weekend, but here’s nothing we can do right now. It’s just going to have to be a wait and see kind of thing. Knowing what we can do, we need to be this way at the start of next season and not wait until the last minute. If you play this kind of season, there’s no doubt we’d be in right now.”

“To be able to compete against them (Robert Morris) and everybody that we did this weekend, it was just a fantastic job by everybody that played on the ice,” McKernan said. “Outstanding effort by everybody. I couldn’t say enough about how we played this weekend.”

If they get to play a few more periods this season, GVSU will be ready to take advantage.

“I think we’re all coming together,” said freshman forward Karyn Schmaltz. “If we just continue that in the next few weeks of practice before we go (to nationals), fine tune everything and keep it going, I think it’ll be really good.”

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