Roller hockey club gets its season off to a good start

Tate Baker

After starting the season 4-0 with wins over Central Michigan University, University of Michigan, Ohio State University and Eastern Michigan University, Grand Valley State University’s roller hockey club is on the right track to do big things.

“Our guys have honestly exceeded my expectations so far this year,” said A-team head coach Ryan Gendon. “It’s been a pleasant surprise to open up as strongly as we have.”

While GVSU has had great success with its football, soccer, cross country and various other varsity programs, it’s easy for the club teams to be overlooked. Not many students realize the level of competition that the roller hockey club competes with.

“The majority of the teams we play against are from the Big Ten,” Gendon said. “We have high expectations for our teams every year – size of the school isn’t a huge factor for us.”

If you ask any coach, there are many pieces that are key to a having a great team. However, it’s not always determined solely on the talent level of that particular club.

“Most of our team has been playing together for almost three years,” said B-team head coach Bryan Flinkner. “We have a really mellow and chill atmosphere, which I believe really contributes a great deal to our success.”

With a senior-laden program this year, the Lakers roller hockey club is looking to repeat what they did in the 2008-09 season, a year in which the team won a national championship.

“We have the majority of our team back from last year,” Gendon said. “This is basically their last shot at a championship, so this year is definitely make or break for many of them.”

Gendon was once a member of the roller hockey club, and knows how it feels to reach the pinnacle as he captured the National Championship for the Lakers that season.

“As a former player, I know what it takes to get to that point, and it’s definitely not easy,” Gendon said. “The team we have this year has honestly worked harder than any team I have ever been a part of. They go the extra mile with everything they do.”

To get to that point the Lakers have to get through their region, which is littered with talent across the board. Among those talents are rivals Michigan State and Ohio State.

“Having a rivalry comes along with having success,” said club president David Oswald. “With (Michigan State) it’s more of a respected rivalry, as we have both had great success in the past years. (Ohio State) tends to get really ‘chippy,’ we don’t necessarily like them too much.”

The Lakers will have yet another shot at their rivals when they face off with Michigan, Ohio State, Central Michigan and Michigan State on Dec. 1 and 2 in Shelby Township, Mich.
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