Club hockey team dominates SIUE in 2-0 weekend

GVL / Hannah Mico
11: JD Duckworth
27: Corbin Rainey

GVL / Hannah Mico 11: JD Duckworth 27: Corbin Rainey

Adam Knorr

The Grand Valley State University men’s Division II club ice hockey team hadn’t left the state for a game in 54 days prior to Friday night.

But if there was any rust, it didn’t show over the weekend.

GVSU (18-7-1) traveled to the Land of Lincoln for a two-game showdown against Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville and, in the process, carried its momentum from a 4-1 month of January into February with back-to-back victories.

The Lakers played with some pent up frustration after a heartbreaking loss against arch-rival Michigan State University on Jan. 25, and it showed as GVSU shredded SIUE from the start in game one.

The team never trailed with freshman Ryan Morey between the pipes, and its offense got things going early by opening up a 2-0 lead before the first period was halfway finished.

“There’s always a tendency to get complacent (after MSU),” captain Nick Heinrich said. “We’re at that point in the season where we have to win every game, and I think all the guys know that.”

The Laker attack intensified, and, by the end of the second, the route was well underway. The lead continued to balloon and stretched to 7-1 by the end of the second period.

The lead hit the double-digit mark late in the third before the game mercifully ended with GVSU on top 10-1.

“We came ready to play the first night, and I don’t know if (SIUE) did,” GVSU head coach Mike Forbes said. “Their goaltender had an off night, and he came back the second game looking to get some retribution.”

It wasn’t so easy for the Lakers on Saturday.

Both goaltenders put on a stellar performance in the encore, and at the end of the first period, shots were 18-15 in GVSU’s favor.

SIUE’s penalty kill stole the show in the second and killed off three Laker power plays in the first half of the period alone. SIUE rode the momentum and broke through with a goal on a nifty deke courtesy of Cougar forward Jeremy Meletti late in the second period.

“We really didn’t change our game plan much between the last two periods,” junior forward Matt Smartt said. “We finished the game with over 60 shots and we just had to regroup, send guys to the front of the net and create some havoc.

“We play best when we’re desperate.”

SIUE quickly witnessed that desperation upon returning to the ice for the third.

GVSU finally found the back of the net and knotted the game at 1-1 just two minutes into the period. The Laker power play followed suit shortly thereafter, as junior Jake Endicott notched the go-ahead goal on the team’s fourth chance of the evening.

The third and final tally of the night once again came on the power play. SIUE took a five-minute major for boarding, and GVSU took full advantage of the man advantage by lighting the lamp for the 13th time in six periods.

“We need to be one or two to get an automatic bid for the tournament,” Smartt said. “Rankings haven’t come out yet, and (we) need to win out to get an automatic bid.”

The Cougars made a late push as GVSU took two major penalties to give SIUE a 5-on-3 power play for the rest of the game, but senior goalie Scott Teifenthal and the defense stood tall. GVSU escaped with a 3-1 win and a gratifying bus ride home.

The team has won six of its last seven games and has lost just three games since Nov. 9.

The Lakers have three more games — all at home — before the start of the ACHA Division II playoffs. Central Michigan University will pay Georgetown Ice Arena a visit on Feb. 8. before Ohio State University comes to town for a two-game set from Feb. 14 to 15.