The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

GV’s D1 men’s club ice hockey team highlights importance in balance

GVL | Bethann Long

The Grand Valley State University Division 1 men’s club ice hockey team plays at the Griffs Georgetown Ice Arena, a short five-minute drive from GVSU’s Allendale campus. Their schedule consists of 28 regular season games, The Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame  (GRSHOF) Tournament and playoffs. This year the team’s goal is to outperform themselves from their run in the tournaments last year and make a competitive run at both the end-of-year tournament playoffs and the GRSHOF tournament. 

The team this year is led by captains Shane Haggerty, Gage Thrall and Zach Borchardt. The schedule is lengthy but according to the captains, the team is confident. Currently sitting on a 9-7 record, almost exactly halfway through the season, they seem to be taking the season one game at a time. 

“We have weekly goals of getting better each week and for each upcoming game,” Thrall said. 

To prepare the team for each game, the captains not only lead on the ice, but they also make an effort to lead by example by encouraging their peers off the ice as well. 

“I feel like this (leading by example) helps everyone else step up their game when it comes to the hard work they put in on the ice and to try and better themselves each and every practice,” Thrall said.

To all three captains, collaboration for them and the team is a must. 

“We have a lot of different leaders on the team and guys will speak up when they need to,” Haggerty said. 

Open communication is important to the team because it allows for a better playing environment and helps the team strengthen the bonds between players. For many of the people on the team, ice hockey has been an integral part of their lives from a young age. Players like this have had a lot of time to perfect their communication on and off the ice. 

Both Haggerty and Thrall have been playing hockey since they were three years old and did not want to lose the sport they loved with the transition into college. Thrall, who had his sights set on GVSU, reached out to the coach about an opportunity to try out. Haggerty, who played for the Metro Jets Hockey Club before coming to GVSU, came here to take advantage of the club hockey team and open doors for more educational opportunities.

Prospective players can either go through the formal recruitment process with the coaches or attend tryouts in the first couple weeks of the fall semester. It is important that players understand what they are signing themselves up for because the intense schedule can make it difficult to balance the time commitment of both school and practice.

Being able to handle the college curriculum, practice five nights a week, the team’s travel schedule and personal lives can be a challenge. Thrall said for him a typical day as a student athlete includes early classes downtown, work, other student organizations and homework.

Thrall then heads to the rink at 8 p.m. for the team’s practices. He is not the only one on the team with a packed schedule and it is typical of players on the team. 

During daily life, the team invests a lot of time working together at the rink and putting in effort to improve on the ice. Off the ice, many of the teammates live together and spend time outside of designated practice time hanging out or studying. One of Thrall’s favorite memories was from the team’s trip to Boston, Massachusetts for a tournament last season. 

“The bus ride was close to 20 hours- if not more. When we were about an hour out from the hotel, we hit a massive snowstorm that delayed our arrival by an extra two hours. I remember each time I checked Apple Maps, the time to the hotel kept growing,” Thrall said. “The guys on the team really got to hang out and have fun during this time (on the bus).” 

Although the team lost in the quarterfinals, they put in their best effort and had the opportunity to bond as a team, setting them up for even more success for their current 2023 season. This deep bond between players contributes to the team’s culture and atmosphere, which feeds back into the program and the players’ relationships.

“The guys really try to incorporate everyone and make sure everyone feels welcome in the program and that no one is left out,” Thrall said. “I believe that since we are such a close team, it relates to the play that we have and the success we have as a program as well.” 

The GVSU D1 men’s hockey team next matchup will be back-to-back games against Western Michigan University on Dec. 1 and 2. The remainder team’s competition schedule can be found on the GVSU club sports website.

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