GVSU men’s hockey drops first game of season

GVL / Emily Frye      
Senior LW Zac Strain on Oct. 23rd.

GVL / Emily Frye Senior LW Zac Strain on Oct. 23rd.

Josh Peick

Friday night’s contest for the Grand Valley State Division II men’s hockey club kicked off with two goals in the first 10 minutes of play; one short-handed goal coming off an interception in the defensive zone and the other on a power play.

Just like that, the Lakers were down 2-0.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville brought intensity to the rink right from puck drop. SIUE attacked the GVSU defense and played an aggressive fore-check, making it difficult for the Lakers to get the puck out of their own defensive zone.

“We weren’t playing our game,” said defenseman Reede Burnett.

The Lakers were stunned Friday night, losing 5-4 to SIUE for their first loss of the season. GVSU (10-1) rebounded Saturday night with a resounding 9-0 victory.

After the opening 10 minutes of the weekend, the Lakers were searching for answers in game one.

The offense responded with three straight goals, including two in a 20-second window, to take a 3-2 lead. Forward Nick Schultz notched two assists in the opening period along with a goal in the second.

“All we had to do was pressure the Southern defense and work behind the net,” Schultz said. “That’s where we generated three of our four goals.”

Each team scored a goal apiece in the second period, as GVSU took a one goal advantage into the third period. Much like the first period, however, the Lakers played flat in the third.

SIUE tied the game with 12 minutes to go in regulation, and, with five minutes to play, both teams committed penalties leaving only four players on the ice for each squad.

On a one-on-two break, a forward for SIUE split the defense and scored a five-hole goal on the backhand, giving the Cougars a one goal lead. The Lakers rallied in the final minutes of play for scoring opportunities, but were unable to bury the puck. The best chance came from a wrister from just inside the blue line that rattled off the post.

As the clock hit zero, the GVSU side of the rink was silent. Both fans and players were dumbfounded by the game’s outcome. The only noise in the rink came from the SIUE players, who huddled around their goaltender to celebrate.

After Friday night’s disappointing loss, the Lakers were hungry for revenge in game two. GVSU came out firing Saturday afternoon, lighting up the scoreboard early and often.

“We did a much better job of fore-checking and we were very aggressive in the neutral zone,” said GVSU head coach Mike Forbes. “We were more physical and much tougher to play against.”

Nick Schultz again led the offense for the Lakers. Schultz earned a hat trick while also tallying an assist.

The Laker defense held SIUE to few scoring opportunities, giving goaltender Jiri Aberle a stress-free night in net. Aberle completed the shutout — only the second shutout for GVSU on the season.

Although the Lakers were dealt their first loss of the season, the team seemed to be clicking on Saturday.

GVSU will play a home-and-away series next weekend against Ferris State, looking to start another winning streak. The series opener is on Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. at Georgetown Ice Center. The concluding game will be held at Ferris State on Oct. 31.