GVSU’s diverse roster ‘wants a shot’ at national tournament

Courtesy Photo / Cory Whitaker 
Womens Hockey Team

Courtesy photo

Courtesy Photo / Cory Whitaker Womens Hockey Team

Joe Maher-Edgin

At a first glance out on the rink of Walker Ice and Fitness Center, you see the black helmets and the blue and white jerseys of the GVSU women’s club hockey team, but there is much more than meets the eye.

“This year we have quite a diverse roster,” said head coach Cory Whitaker. “We are young. We have nine freshmen on a 19-person roster, each coming from different systems they were already comfortable with.”

Senior Lindsay Coursen said it has taken some time for the team to get rolling this season.

“We have so many new players that had to learn our system,” Coursen said. “But even though these girls are young, they bring a lot of talent to the team.”

Though the team must over come compatibility setbacks, freshman defenseman Alexa Tenwalde said she is happy to be a part of such a diverse squad that isn’t just young, but features four players that hail from places well outside of Michigan.

“It is so cool to be part of a team that has diversity as one of its core traditions,” Tenwalde said. “We have players from California and New Jersey, as well as players of different nationalities.”

Among 17 women’s university club teams competing in the American Collegiate Hockey Association, GVSU (10-9-3, 7-3-2 Conf.) is among the list of teams with Canadian players and the only to feature a player from Sweden.

Kajsa Trollsas, a sophomore goalkeeper with 515 minutes and an average 1.86 goals against per game, came to GVSU after a spell with the Swedish sports club Södert?§lje Sportklubb. Trollsas was lured by academic opportunities in the United States and GVSU’s well-established sports therapy program, in which Trollsas is studying.

“International players often outreach to us, the universities, seeking academics first and then looking for a place to play the sport they love,” Whitaker said.

While the team is still young and still acclimating to a uniform style of Laker hockey, they still have their eyes set on big goals and national attention.

“We definitely want to be a top contender in our conference,” Tenwalde said. “Our first goal we set at the beginning of the season was to give ourselves to opportunity to win the national championship, but right now we’re still on the bubble.”

Confidence is high after a 3-2 overtime victory over the University of Massachusetts.

“That was a real boost for us and proof we’re mentally focused,” Whitaker said. “The talent of our opponents can only go so far — I love how we are playing right now.”

The Lakers still have a chance to qualify for the national tournament, which requires finishing in the top eight in the final rankings of the season, which will be on Feb. 27. GVSU currently sits at ninth, but could receive an invitation based on league performance.

“With playoffs ahead, everyone is starting to understand that every game counts,” Coursen said. “It’s especially important to have that mind-set I order to have success in playoffs with a young team like ours. We definitely want a shot at nationals this season.”

The Lakers will close out their regular season with a home stand against Colorado State University on Jan. 27 and 28 before hitting the road against Michigan State University on Feb. 4 and 5.

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