Postseason preperation

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Freshman Blaine Marney during the Lakers previous match against Hope college.

GVL Archives

GVL / Archive Freshman Blaine Marney during the Lakers previous match against Hope college.

Jon Van Zytveld

As spring break approaches, the players on the Grand Valley State University Division II club hockey team are excited, not to hit the beaches, but to demonstrate their skills and take the first steps toward a repeat of last season’s national championship at the upcoming Great Midwest Hockey League Tournament next week.

“Winning the GMHL is very important to us because the last couple of champions have won the national championship after winning the GMHL,” said junior forward Chad Wilhelm. “It’s also important to get on a winning streak going into the tournament to have a good feeling about ourselves and our team play. It gives us a chance to play back-to-back tough games like we will be faced with in the National tournament with little rest between games.”

This weekend, the Lakers (27-5-1) will host four of the six league participants for two days of postseason hockey. In attendance will be GVSU, the University of Michigan, Michigan State and Ferris State universities, which ensures that the level of play will be high.

“Michigan just got out of Regionals, and they beat Ferris in overtime,” said junior defender Craig Marrett. “That means that Ferris’ season is done, but there’s no reason that they won’t give us a tough game. They have nothing to lose and want to end their season on high note. The other three teams want to prepare for Nationals, so it will be the highest level of play that we’ve had all year. No team is going to take this lightly.”

The Lakers will face off against Ferris State on Friday, as will Michigan and Michigan State. The winners will play for the title on Saturday, and the Lakers are gearing up to play their best hockey of the season.

“Expectations are high, just like they have been all season,” said junior goalie Scott Tiefenthal. “We just need to go into it and focus on what we need to do to be successful. If we play to the best of our abilities, the results will turn out in our favor. We have the ability to win.”

Coming off of several losses and narrow wins that followed a 23-game winning streak, the Lakers welcome the chance to prove their ability to come together as a team and prepare for Nationals.

They look at this weekend as an opportunity to build momentum that will send them to Nationals with their eyes on the championship title.

“We struggled during the last couple of games,” Marrett said. “Every team will have some sort of slump, it just happens no matter what sport or level of play. If there’s one thing we have to be concerned about, it’s that we have that hanging over our heads still. We can’t go into Nationals in a slump; we have an opportunity this weekend to get rid of all that by winning two really good games, which will really boost our confidence.”