GV wins, ties Miami in two-game weekend series

Senior Eric Beaupre during Fridays game against Miami, Ohio

Nicole Lamson

Senior Eric Beaupre during Friday’s game against Miami, Ohio

Greg Monahan

In control of a two-goal lead with less than 15 minutes to play, the Grand Valley State University men’s hockey team seemed to have a weekend sweep locked up against Miami University’s (Ohio) ACHA team on Saturday night.

But after a five-minute major and two tip-in goals in front of the GVSU net, the Lakers’ lead – and hopes of a 2-0 weekend – evaporated in a matter of minutes. A 3-1 apparent victory quickly became into a 3-3 tie.

“Not happy with a tie,” said sophomore center Tim Marney. “They got a bit of a lucky goal where the puck hit a couple of sticks and got through (senior goaltender) Josh (LaVigne). I don’t think he ever saw it. We worked hard, we weren’t lazy about it at all, but that’s just how hockey goes sometimes.”

About halfway through the third period, GVSU sophomore Shane McCusker took a five-minute major penalty and was ejected from the game for a check from behind. The Redhawks (18-10-1) capitalized on the subsequent power play to cut the Lakers’ (17-10-1) two-goal lead in half. Miami added the game-tying goal three minutes later.

LaVigne was victimized twice by last-second redirections on what originally looked like harmless shots, including the tying goal that pinballed off two Miami sticks before finding its way through LaVigne’s legs.

“Miami is a good hockey team,” said GVSU head coach Mike Forbes. “They’re well-coached, they go to the net well, they deflect the puck well. And those deflection goals – we had guys back defensively, and all they did was dump the puck toward the net. It was a nice, simple play, and we didn’t fill in in front of the net. That’s good, smart hockey, and that’s a good hockey team.”

GVSU beat the Redhawks on Friday night, 4-3. Senior goalie Grant Lyon got the win as the Lakers clung to a one-goal lead for the majority of the third period.

The first star of the Lakers’ weekend was sophomore forward Jeremy Christopher. He had three goals and an assist on the weekend, including two on Saturday. His second goal was short-handed, and his first came just three seconds after a GVSU penalty had expired, where the Lakers were still essentially playing five-against-four hockey.

“He was a man possessed,” Forbes said. “He has such great work ethic and brings that enthusiasm to his game all the time, and it’s hard to deny him when he played that well. That’s why he kills penalties – he has energy, he pursues the puck with dogged determination, and he had a great game tonight and a great weekend.”

Both of Christopher’s goals were unassisted. On the first, he picked the pocket of a Redhawk skater and came in on the goalie after forcing a turnover. His second goal was a slapshot placed so well in the top corner of the net that it knocked the Miami goalie’s water bottle well into the air and onto the ice.

“You just have to be aggressive on the penalty kill,” Christopher said. “Any time a kid on the other team bobbles the puck or there’s a battle, you have to be the first one in there and put pressure on them. Especially on the penalty kill, they’re thinking they’ll have more time, and when you get on them, sometimes you surprise them.”

When the Lakers have taken three of a possible four points in the weekend series, the team has all but punched its ticket to the Division II National Tournament in San Jose, Calif. on March 15-19.

With only one weekend in the regular season left against a struggling Northern Michigan University team, the team is likely to make the trip for its fifth consecutive year.

“We’re really excited. Especially me – I’ve never played in a national tournament in my whole career,” said Marney, who is in his first year on the Division II squad. “It’s something I’ve been looking forward to all year. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like. We’ve got our work cut out for us, so we have to keep working hard in practice and be ready to go in March.”

GVSU will face off against Northern Michigan this weekend with two home games on Friday and Saturday. Friday’s game is at 9 p.m. and the weekend will conclude with an 8 p.m. match-up Saturday night.

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