Set-up man Collin Finkhouse shines in role with GVSU DII hockey

GVL / Emily Frye
Collin Finkhouse waits for the puck to drop on Friday Oct. 7, 2016 against Rochester College.

Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye Collin Finkhouse waits for the puck to drop on Friday Oct. 7, 2016 against Rochester College.

Robbie Triano

Most athletes dream of scoring that game-winning goal, touchdown or home-run when the game is on the line. For senior right wing Collin Finkhouse, he dreams of being the one delivering those opportunities to his teammates.

Already tallying 12 assists and leading Grand Valley State’s club men’s hockey team (Division II) with 14 points so far this season, Finkhouse has excelled in finding his teammates, which is his favorite part of the game.

Finkhouse has even admitted that his love of passing has driven his coach Mike Forbes crazy at times.

“Passing too much has been a good and bad habit for me,” Finkhouse said. “Rarely do coaches or players complain about someone passing too much, but sometimes my coach wants to rip my head off.”

Even though Finkhouse is a senior class-standing, this is only his third season playing for the Lakers after a brief one-year stint playing junior hockey in the U.S. Premier Hockey League and North American Hockey League. Both leagues are considered the most competitive and selective junior hockey leagues in the nation.

While playing for USPHL’s Bay City Breakers, Finkhouse had a harsh, but eye-opening realization about his future with the game of hockey and returning to academics.

“When I first started in the USPHL, I quickly realized that I just wasn’t good enough to those around me,” Finkhouse. “I weighed 150 pounds when I started juniors and I didn’t expect how skilled and physical the players around me would be.”

Finkhouse transferred to GVSU after that year to shift his focus to become a student first. Currently, Finkhouse is a finance major and mathematics minor.

During his three-year span with the Lakers, Forbes has witnessed the growth of a “cocky” player to team leader.

“When he first arrived, he didn’t have much respect for me and the rest of the coaches, but we knew he had the skills to be (a) great skater for this team,” Forbes said. “For a player with that much confidence and skill, it was difficult for him to take our criticism to change his game. After a while, he began to soften up when he realized we weren’t trying to change him, but his habits to make him an even more productive player.

“These three years have definitely made an impact as he has become a great leader and earned the honor of becoming assistant captain.”

Finkhouse agreed with Forbes’ early criticism.

“I had quite the attitude when I first got here, no question about it,” Finkhouse said. “I didn’t care about anyone but myself, but through time I realized that the teammates I have around me are the best I’ve had since I started playing.

“If anything, these three years have taught me to value being on a team and to become a leader.”

Forbes classifies Finkhouse as a “puck possession” type of player for his ability to control the puck and create opportunities for his teammates. GVSU’s leading goal scorer Matt Sherman has thanked Finkhouse many times for being the leader on their line and setting teammates up to score, including himself.

“I wouldn’t have the success I’ve had this season without him setting me up,” Sherman said. “He really has a great vision on where we all are on the ice.”

Although Finkhouse has a love for passing, he is not shy to point out his inability to shoot the puck compared to his teammates.

“I never shoot when I really should, and everyone on the team knows that,” Finkhouse said. “I’ve been lucky to be playing with some pretty skilled players, especially players with way better shots than myself.”

But Forbes said Finkhouse’s love of passing may be one of the Lakers’ biggest downfalls.

“He has an incredible asset and vision of the ice, but sometimes he’s too focused on being that perfect pass instead of just the right one at the time,” Forbes said. “And I know it’s frustrating for him because he’s such a perfectionist.”