Two-goalie system working for GVSU hockey

GVL / Emily Frye
Sophomore Doc Hoekzema (#1)

GVL / Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye Sophomore Doc Hoekzema (#1)

Nick DeMaagd

Acting as a last line of defense, goaltenders face the greatest pressure on the ice as they can singlehandedly win or lose games. For Grand Valley State’s Division II club hockey team, finding the right player to fill those kinds of skates this season has been a question without a clear-cut answer.

Since the end of former goaltender Scott Tiefenthal’s tenure, GVSU coach Mike Forbes has had difficulty deciding who would take his spot between the pipes. But with a current record of 12-2-2, GVSU has had no problem stopping their competition this season. 

That success has been attributed in part to two different goalies.

Sophomores Ryan Morey and Dennis ‘Doc’ Hoekzema have traded off duties in netll season, and each has had his ups and downs. The decision to choose one over the other has not been clear due to a multitude of factors.

“They have their strong games, and they each have periods where they struggle,” Forbes said.

Morey was on the Division II team last year, getting limited time on the ice because Tiefenthal was the go-to choice for the Lakers. Forbes said Morey didn’t get quality minutes and that he was trying to figure out how to fill the position.

On the other hand, Hoekzema played for the Division III team last year. Forbes said he competed in practice and thought it was his time to play for the Division II team.

“Ryan and Doc have both had some slow starts this season,” Forbes said. “But they both come to off-ice workouts and that’s dedication.”

With a save percentage of 88.1 percent Morey is ranked in the top 50 goalies in Division II hockey along with Hoekzema (90.8). The two practice together, helping one another improve despite their head-to-head position battle. The competition has been present all season, but the rivalry is friendly.

“We’re competing, but in the end we know one of us will get the spot,” Morey said. “When that happens there won’t be any hard feelings, because it’ll happen eventually.”

During their practices together and in games, both Morey and Hoekzema have shown their own unique strengths that have helped them succeed this season. For Hoekzema, Morey said his mental game is incredible and he prepares for practice the same way he does for games. On the other hand, Morey reads the defense to anticipate the next shot in order to make up for his small size (5-foot-9) compared to Hoekzema (6-foot-4).

The team’s success this season has been on both sides of the puck and has contributed to the difficulty of picking a starter. For Forbes, both Morey and Hoekzema have strong fundamentals and are square with the puck, but separating their strength from the team’s offensive prowess and strong defense is difficult.

“There’s upsides and downsides to both,” Forbes said. “We’ll continue splitting them between games until Christmas and see where it goes from there.”

Filling the skates that Tiefenthal left behind will be difficult, but regardless of who is chosen, the Lakers can rest assured that they’re in good hands.

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