The Grand Valley State University Lakers DII club hockey team started off their night with a little flair before the puck dropped against Michigan State on Friday, Jan. 25.
The lights dimmed, a buzz flowed through the stands and an announcer’s voice rang out over the PA system at Georgetown Ice Arena as GVSU’s starting line was introduced. The energy from the arena seemed to carry over to the players on the ice as the Lakers progressed through warm ups.
“We were ready and got it going early,” said head coach Carl Trosien.
GVSU opened up the game with a furious pace, using their depth and team speed to fuel an attack that got them opportunities in transition early and often.
The Lakers hammered away against the Spartans goalie from the get-go, launching 12 shots in the first three minutes of the first period. The barrage was highlighted by a 15-foot wrist shot by sophomore forward Evan Newel that rimmed off the upper right crossbar and in for GVSU’s first goal at the 17:24 mark in the first period.
The onslaught of shots faced by MSU’s goalie continued from there. Not two minutes later, freshman forward Trevor Zenas poked home a shot right in front of the Spartan’s net to make it 2-0 at the 15:39 mark in the first period.
In an opportunity shortly after that would have given the Spartans back some momentum, MSU gained control of the puck on a turnover and went down the ice on a two-on-one break only for GVSU goalie Jared Maddock to make a slick sliding glove hand save to stop the Spartans’ attack in transition.
After that, senior forward Danny Smith poured in a mid-range wrist shot to further pad GVSU’s lead to 3-0 at the 9:56 mark in the first. Junior forward Zach Resnick followed Smith up with a goal of his own on a two-on-one breakaway with 7:56 remaining in the first to make the score 4-0.
With their lead expanding, GVSU continued to use their advantage in team speed and began to focus on imposing their will physically.
The Spartans were able to score a power play goal with 2:24 remaining in the first period, but the tone had been set for the rest of the game, and the first closed with GVSU leading 4-1.
The first 10 minutes of the second period were no different from the pace of the first, which featured three more goals from the Lakers’ front line; two more from Smith and another one from Newel, which increased the lead even further to 7-1.
“It feels great, it’s been a while since I’ve scored,” Newel said. “It was a good night overall, I got a couple points, me and my line-mates.”
Sophomore forward Derek Becker put the puck past Chapel with 2:13 remaining to move GVSU’s lead to 8-1 and close out the rest of the scoring during the second period.
GVSU took their foot off the pedal a bit during the third period but did not see a stoppage in goals scored, as the Lakers had 51 combined shots in the first two periods, but only mustered 16 shots in the third. During a three-minute stretch midway through the third period, GVSU added three more goals moving their lead to double digits at 11-1. MSU added another goal with 7:57 remaining in the third, but failed to close the gap anymore before the final buzzer.
“I think the team’s starting to all buy into our philosophy,” Trosien said. “We had a rough stretch earlier but we’re to a point where we’re getting shots and the shots we want and it showed out there tonight.”
Senior defenseman Nick Beers agreed with Trosien about the team’s newfound chemistry.
“I definitely think we’re all on the same page now,” Beers said. “Basically, we’re scoring goals finally and now we’re finally at even strength.”
Next up, GVSU will take on the Michigan’s DII club hockey team in a home-and-home two game series on Friday, Feb. 1 and Saturday, Feb. 2. Friday’s game in Ann Arbor starts at 9 p.m., while Saturday’s game in Allendale starts at 6:30 p.m.