Laker hockey kicks off New Year with split against Oakland

Sophomore Bobby Anderson skates after the puck during Saturdays game against Oakland.

Nicole Lamson

Sophomore Bobby Anderson skates after the puck during Saturday’s game against Oakland.

Greg Monahan

Facing a top Division I team after a month-long layoff, the Grand Valley State University men’s hockey team returned to the ice and split a home-and-home series against Oakland University this weekend.

GVSU, which plays in the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s Division II, showed no ill side effects on Friday from a month off the ice. The Lakers jumped all over the Grizzlies in the first game as five different skaters found the back of the net in a 5-3 upset win on Oakland’s home ice in Rochester Hills.

The Lakers, however, did not have similar luck the following night back on home ice. The team dropped a 4-1 decision while spending the majority of the game in its own zone. Senior goaltender Josh LaVigne got the start in net both games for GVSU.

But the Lakers were happy to split against Oakland, ranked No. 10 in the nation in the ACHA’s Division I.

“It’s a good split for us. They’re a good team,” said winger Eric Beaupre, who scored in both games over the weekend. “I felt like we were in the game all day and kind of let off in the third, and that’s what killed us. But I feel pretty good about the weekend overall, and it’s still a good, solid way to come out of the break.”

The weekend played out oddly as both teams struggled on home ice but excelled on the road. Oakland had a 6-1 home record in regulation until Friday’s loss, and GVSU had only lost one home game since September until dropping Saturday’s tilt against the Grizzlies.

Sophomore forward C.J. Pobur said each team’s mentality, not the venue, determined the outcome of the two games.

“The game Friday was our first game back, so we were fresh, ready to go and excited to get back on the ice,” he said. “Then they came out, and they were ready. We gave them a reason to play after we won Friday. They came out hard (Saturday), and we tried to play the same game as before, but it was more about Friday being the first game of the weekend rather than the home-and-away factor.”

The weekend series against capped a brutal first half of the season that saw the Lakers play 11 of their 19 games against Division I opponents, 13 of which on the road. GVSU will finish the season playing nine of 12 games at home, all of which against Division II teams.

The Lakers are 5-1 on the season against Division II teams, compared to a 3-8 record against teams from Division I.

“If you’re going to be a top contender in Division II you have to step out side DII and play the top teams in Division I,” said GVSU captain Ryan Welch. “Fortunately those DI teams do schedule us, and it’s really brought our team together. We’ve gone through some rough patches against those teams, and it’s going to help us in the end.”

GVSU will play a pair of home games this weekend at Georgetown Ice Arena. The opener is against Marist College at 9 p.m. on Friday, and the team will wrap up the weekend at 4 p.m. Sunday with face-off against the University of Minnesota.

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