Lakers outlast Toledo twice in physical series

GVL / Emily Frye

GVL/Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye #6

Nick DeMaagd

Sticks were shattered, blows were exchanged and defenses were tested as Grand Valley State University’s Division II men’s club hockey team waged war on the ice with the University of Toledo in a two-game showdown over the weekend.

GVSU took the first game 7-2 in Toledo on Friday before driving it home with a 3-2 victory on Saturday night at the Georgetown Ice Center. The Lakers emerged victorious in both games, but not without a great deal of effort.

The first game was fierce, and the physicality only continued to ramp up when the Lakers played the second game at home. Penalties were numerous for both teams, working in favor of the University of Toledo for most of game two.

“We got caught up in their physicality when we shouldn’t have,” said GVSU sophomore Collin Finkhouse. “We were much more skilled than them.”

Coach Mike Forbes seemed to have the same sentiment about his team’s performance.

“I’m just disappointed in our concentrated efforts in the first two periods of game two,” Forbes said. “Discipline is something every team has to work on and we just need to use our intelligence, not putting ourselves in situations we shouldn’t be in.”

After a strong first game in which the Lakers were chased on the ice all night, game two was a hard-fought struggle. GVSU’s only goal until the third period was a shorthanded tally from freshman defenseman Mark Janiga.

The tide of battle would change though, as the third period started to wind down. Trailing 2-1 with just under seven minutes left to play, the Lakers turned on the gas and went full throttle.

Finkhouse connected with senior Matt Smartt to tie up the game with six minutes to go before senior Corbin Rainey found junior Nick Schultz, who buried the puck to put the Lakers ahead for good minutes later.

“We’re not about physicality, we’re only aggressive about going to the net,” said senior Nick Heinrich.

Despite being down for most of the game, the team began every period banging on the boards to pump up for the faceoffs. Their morale showed as they kept a tight defense and protected sophomore goalie Doc Hoekzema as much as possible.

Hoekzema cemented the team’s strong defense, allowing just two goals in a game that was spent mostly in front of his net.

GVSU’s 4-0 record has been earned, but the season is just getting underway. Forbes said the team will make adjustments after each game going forward, but ultimately he wants the team to keep up the hard work.

“You have to work hard every day,” Forbes said. “A lot of your success comes from working for it and that is true both on the ice and in life.”

The Lakers will take on a trio of teams in the ACHA Showcase this weekend: North Dakota State University on Friday, the University of Utah on Saturday and the University of Arizona on Sunday.