Men’s club hockey defeats Oakland, preps for more

GVL / Robert Mathews
Junior Jeremy Christopher (11) skates the puck up the ice during a recent matchup with Oakland University.

Robert Mathews

GVL / Robert Mathews Junior Jeremy Christopher (11) skates the puck up the ice during a recent matchup with Oakland University.

Jon Van Zytveld

Sunday’s face-off pitting the Grand Valley State University Division II hockey club against visiting Division I Oakland University turned out to be what many members of the team called the most difficult game of their season so far.

Difficulty aside, the Lakers (21-2-1) took over in the third period, out-scoring the Grizzlies (16-10-1) by two goals to finish off their 4-2 win.

“Our schedule was set up for us to have the greatest difficulties in January, so it was a big effort tonight,” said GVSU head coach Mike Forbes. “Oakland just came out in a full-out blitz and they wore our guys down. They played some good hockey, but we turned the game around in the third and it was a big win for us.”

Both teams looked evenly matched for much of the first, but a goal in the final seconds of the period gave the Lakers a lead. After another home-team score, the Grizzlies took advantage of Laker penalties to score twice, ending the second period knotted at two goals.

After the break, the Lakers returned and added two more goals to close out the game, 4-2.

“We battled through it,” said junior defender Craig Marrett. “We all cracked down and did our jobs. I would say that it was a team effort. Both of our last two games have been a battle, which is huge for us, because at the beginning of the season we were playing against teams that were much weaker, and we really need tough opponents to get us ready for Nationals.”

One of the keys to the Laker victory was a strong performance from goalie Scott Tiefenthal, a relative newcomer that the Lakers brought up from the GVSU Division III team to help out on net.

“I haven’t been on the team very long, so it was somewhat challenging, but it was a good game,” he said. “It was an all-around team effort. We got worked in the second because of a few breakdowns, so that was the most challenging part, from a goalie-standpoint. Other than avoiding that happening, I think we just need to stay focused and not lose ourselves in the past or future, and then we will be ready for more games like this one.”

This victory marks the 20th consecutive victory for the Lakers this season, an all-time high for the last few years of the program.

“The longest streak that I’ve been a part of in my time as coach at GVSU was 15 in my first year,” Forbes said. “For the level of play and the level of competition that we’re at, to have 20 wins in a row is pretty remarkable. I believe that losing is part of learning how to win, but we’re on a good streak here, so time will tell. I couldn’t be happier as a coach.”

Far from being content with their success, the Lakers continue to press each other to improve in order to meet their ultimate goal of placing at Nationals.

“We have to keep battling,” Marrett said. “People are going to want to beat us that much more, but we can’t afford to lose now. We want to go to Nationals without having to go to Regionals, we want to get the No. 1 seed, so we can’t let the streak go to our heads.”

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