Three GVSU members compete at ACHA All-Star Challenge

GVL / Courtesy - Darrell Gregorio
Head coach Charlie Link (left), Tyler Stoller (middle), and assistant coach Darrell Gregorio (right).

Darrell Gregorio

GVL / Courtesy – Darrell Gregorio Head coach Charlie Link (left), Tyler Stoller (middle), and assistant coach Darrell Gregorio (right).

Josh Peick

The Grand Valley State Division III men’s hockey club sent one player and two coaches to the American Collegiate Hockey Association All-Star Challenge in Philadelphia from April 1-3. Junior forward Tyler Stoller, GVSU head coach Charlie Link and assistant coach Darrell Gregorio represented GVSU on the Michigan Collegiate Hockey Conference West team.

In his first appearance at the tournament, Link coached the MCHC West team to a first-place finish after an overtime win over the MCHC East team in the championship game.

“It was a great experience,” Link said. “The best players in the country playing, and we were very fortunate to come out on top.”

MCHC West steamrolled through the first two days of play, winning four straight games with the lowest margin of victory being three goals. The team’s momentum carried into the championship game, as it scored early in the first period.

After a couple of goals by the opposing MCHC East, Stoller and company were down a goal with under two minutes to play. MCHC West tied the game with just over a minute left in regulation to send the game into overtime.

In overtime, MCHC West kept the pressure on. After keeping the puck in the offensive zone for over a minute, MCHC West fired the puck on net and scored on the rebound to secure the victory. GVSU was well-represented in the tournament and played a key role in the victory.

Three GVSU players were chosen to play in the tournament, but due to injury and school commitments, Stoller was the only player who could make it.

Stoller, the leading scorer for the Lakers with 36 points, was an obvious choice for the MCHC West team. His scoring prowess was on display at the ACHA All-Star Challenge.

“He is one of the more skilled centers that we have,” Link said.

Stoller scored a goal in each of the first four games of the tournament. He also found his linemates for scoring opportunities, tallying six assists on the weekend.

“Considering playing with new players that you haven’t played with before and having five games in three days, I think I gelled pretty well with the team,” Stoller said.

Many of the players that competed in the tournament are fighting for a spot on the ACHA Division III Select Team next year. The team will take a week-long trip to play some of the top competition in Europe.

“I would really love to be able to represent my country and my school in Europe,” Stoller said.

In Europe, hockey is played on Olympic-style rinks, which means the dimensions of the rink are larger than traditional rinks in the U.S. The larger rink plays right into Stoller’s style of play.

“I’m not a real big bruiser. I like to play a fast-paced game,” Stoller said. “With the extra size, I think it really benefits my speed and puck handling, giving myself more space and time on the ice to make more things happen.”

With the team still yet to be determined, Stoller can only hope that his play in the ACHA All-Star Challenge will translate into a spot on the Select Team.