Liberty ices GVSU women in weekend series

GVL/Aj Bedard 
#5 Michelle VanFleet

GVL / AJ Bedard

GVL/Aj Bedard #5 Michelle VanFleet

Mark Washburn

After a long winter break layoff and what felt like an even longer bus ride, the Grand Valley State women’s club hockey team finally got back on the ice. GVSU traveled to took on Liberty in a two-game series over the weekend, but Liberty (16-3-1) claimed both wins (7-3-1).

GVSU’s skaters knew what they were going up against.

“Coming into this weekend knowing they were ranked #2 really set a strong tone for us,” said senior captain Alexa Tenwalde. “I think we did a really good job at coming in not being intimidated and instead letting their ranking motivate us to play harder.”

Unfortunately, the start of the first game didn’t go according to plan. On Friday, Liberty started off the game strong, overwhelming GVSU to take a 2-0 lead after the first period.

“We had road legs that really carried off the bus,” said GVSU coach Sean McKernan.

Despite the road legs from the 11-hour bus trip, the Lakers were able to get back on their feet. McKernan and the Lady Lakers went into the locker room, got pumped up and came out for the second period with an edge. Junior forward Stacey Mathieu took note.

“We all did a really good job of staying positive and not letting up,” Mathieu said. “We came out in the second period with fire and tied up the game.”

Junior center Kendra Myers got the scoring started for the Lakers in the second period. Later in the second, senior Lauren Iavasile tied the game with a blast from the blue line during a power play.

There was some great individual play by a few players, and McKernan took note.

“Kendra Myers played an outstanding game,” he said. “She had determination.

“Our captain Alexa Tenwalde really stepped up at both ends of the ice, led by example, and the team really fed off of her energy and play.”

Despite the newfound life, GVSU couldn’t get on the scoreboard again.

Liberty had a chance to respond and did when captain Carrie Jickling scored on a breakaway in the third period to put Liberty ahead 3-2. It was the final tally on either side. 

The Lakers had 5-on-3 power play later in the period, but they couldn’t find the back of the net.

One takeaway was that there was a lot of character shown by GVSU in the game. The Lakers could have let the game slide after falling behind 2-0, but they fought back.

“We’ve been doing a really good job this year at not letting ourselves get down after being behind and we reacted by tying it back up the next period,” Tenwalde said.

Saturday’s game started off much differently for GVSU. The Lakers outshot Liberty 15-7 in the first and really put the pressure on throughout the entire period, but they couldn’t capitalize on their scoring opportunities.

Then, with about ten minutes left in the second period, Liberty scored what some thought was a controversial goal. GVSU goalie Taylor Watson covered the puck during a scrum in front of the net, but the whistle wasn’t blown — and Liberty powered the puck home.

“Us captains and coaches always preach to everyone to just control what we can control and play through bad calls, regardless of how much we may disagree with them,” Tenwalde said.

The Lakers lost 2-0, but responded well again by playing great defense.

“Our defense was excellent tonight,” said McKernan. “They skated with the puck well and the two goals were unfortunate breaks.”

GVSU’s goalies came up big throughout the series. Freshman Lauren Allen made some key saves for the Lakers in the first game, while Watson contributed a great effort in the second game.

While McKernan was happy with the solid team effort all around, Mathieu really saw how the weekend series at Liberty would set the tone for the rest of the 2015 campaign.

“I think the whole team fought hard this weekend and will come forward with even more motivation going into the rest of the season,” she said.

GVSU plays its next two matches in a series against Adrian (7-4-4) on Jan. 17 and 18.