GVSU gears up for series with Michigan

GVL / Emily Frye
Sophomore Anthony Russo (#13)

GVL/Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye Sophomore Anthony Russo (#13)

Abbey Haji-Sheikh

The Grand Valley State Division II men’s club hockey team is preparing for battle as it faces the University of Michigan this weekend for a two-game series.

Coming from the long winter break, GVSU (18-2-2, 2nd in ACHA Central) has a lot of work to do before it takes on the Wolverines (6-8-1-1, 23rd). Head coach Mike Forbes said he hopes to keep the momentum from last semester flowing into the second half of the season.

“You’d hate to see that go away,” Forbes said. “We just hope that we continue doing the right thing on the ice and developing good, quality habits.”

Senior Corbin Rainey said the boys are going to work on the little things.

“We’re going to try to get back to the streak we had going before the break,” Rainey said. “The teams we’re playing this semester are definitely a lot tougher than the ones we’ve been playing.”

The players are aware that this semester will be much more physical than the first half of the season.

“The teams we’re playing this semester are more of the caliber we expect to play down the road and into nationals,” Rainey said.

To help them face those tougher teams, the Lakers are thrilled to welcome back two juniors, Alex Ostrowski and Mike Bishop, who missed a number of games in the first half of the season.

“Alex is a power center, a power forward, a great skater and has great command of the ice, so we’re looking forward to having him back,” Forbes said. “Mike Bishop was a play-of-the-game guy for us before he broke his thumb, and we’re excited to get him back.”

In terms of preparation, Forbes said it’s all about getting back to basics.

“We’re going to go back to what we generally started the season with: lots of battle drills and getting prepared to put forth some physical effort,” he said. “We’re going to do lots of competition drills to get us back into that mindset.

“There’s only one puck out there, and only one person can have it at a time. I want it to be us. We have to go get it, they don’t just give it to you, so we have to work on that so the mindset is in the right place.”

Junior Tony Russo said the Lakers aren’t necessarily preparing for Michigan as a team, but rather for the tough semester as a whole.

“We rarely ever specifically prepare for a team unless they run a specific system that we know about, but we’ve played Michigan so many times and Coach Forbes knows them inside and out,” Russo said.

Although the Lakers don’t plan to give any special consideration to the Wolverines, they still expect Michigan to play a tough game.

“We get everyone’s best game when we play them, everyone gets pumped to play us, so we have to expect the best out of them, and ourselves as well,” Russo said.

The series starts at Georgetown Ice Center on Friday (9 p.m.) before a contest at Yost Ice Arena on Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mich.