Hockey club unifies after streak-ending weekend

After three big games, the Grand Valley State University Division II hockey club’s 23-game winning streak is over, but the Lakers are staying strong in facing defeat for the first time since Oct. 1.

“We played three good games, but we had a hard time putting the puck in the net the last few nights,” said GVSU coach Mike Forbes. “Tonight, we didn’t have a lot of success in the power play, and I think that made the difference in the game. Anytime you make two goals offensively, you can’t expect to win. We have to put up more. On the season, I think we’re averaging 5.9 goals per game. The guys are just a little tired.”

Friday, the Lakers (24-4-1) hit the road for a game against Michigan State University and walked away with a 5-2 victory. The Saturday follow-up game was much more competitive, with the Lakers tying it up in the final period, only to fall after last-minute goal from Michigan State.

“They needed a win, they were playing for their life during that second game,” said junior defender Craig Marrett. “The last two games could have gone either way. This was arguably the biggest weekend of the year. If we win one game, we essentially are secure to go to Nationals without going to Regionals, and we fought hard.”

On Sunday, the Lakers faced off against Davenport University in what was one of the more physical and penalty-ridden games this season.

The Panthers jumped out to an early lead in the first before a goal by GVSU’s Bobby Anderson tied it up. This pattern repeated in the second with a goal by Blaine Marney, but in the third, the Lakers failed to capitalize on a power play, and a score by Davenport in the last two minutes of the period closed out the game.

“I feel like it could have gone better, but it was good to go 1-1 with State so we have an automatic C in Nationals,” said freshman forward Ian Hamilton. “They were probably two of the best losses we could hoped for, but next week we’re going to come out and kill it.”

Instead of assigning blame, the Lakers look at the losses as opportunities to improve and unify before heading into their season’s home stretch. The team is unified and believes that they have what it takes to win during their next two games, which will take place at Central Michigan University on Feb. 3 and at Ferris State University on Feb. 4.

“No one’s’ leaving the rinks with their heads bowed low, it’s a learning opportunity,” Marrett said. “The streak was unheard of; you just can’t win them all. To keep that streak up would have been impossible. It was a wake-up call that is bringing us back together. It’s important to know what that feels like to lose. We have five games left this season; there should be no reason why we don’t go 5-0.”

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