GVSU wins Great Lakes Showcase Tournament

GVL / Archive
Sophomore Matt Smartt (20) shooting the puck away from a defender

GVL / Archive Sophomore Matt Smartt (20) shooting the puck away from a defender

Jay Bushen

Grand Valley State University’s division II men’s club hockey team picked up a crucial tournament victory last weekend in the Great Lakes Showcase Tournament, played at the University of Michigan-Dearborn Fieldhouse.

GVSU (12-1-1) came out flat against Western Michigan University in the first round, and trailed 2-1 in the second period with just under six minutes to play.

The Lakers shifted the momentum in a hurry.

After Chad Wilhelm tied the game up with 5:24 to play, Tyler Stoller lit the lamp 28 seconds later to give the Lakers a 3-2 lead.
GVSU forward Jeremy Christopher scored the only goal in the third period, and the Lakers held on for a 4-2 win. Goalie Scott Tiefenthal played a strong game between the pipes, making 42 of 44 saves.

“We were sloppy and allowed far too many shots,” said head coach Mike Forbes. “But in hindsight, that game resulted in a solid performance against Eastern Michigan.”

The Lakers were much better Saturday in the second round against Eastern Michigan University. Christopher and Wilhelm both scored their second goals of the tournament in the first, then Matt Smart broke a 2-2 tie to give GVSU the lead for good.

Tiefenthal made 25 saves as the Lakers advanced to the championship game with a 3-2 victory.

“The win was huge for us,” Tiefenthal said. “We played well in our zone and were able to capitalize on our chances offensively.”

The Lakers not only had an opportunity to win the tournament, but also a chance to make a statement against the team that leapfrogged them in the polls: Michigan State University.

“The top-ranked team gets a bid to the national tournament,” said forward Jeremy Christopher. “Right now, MSU is ranked first in the Central. We feel like that’s our spot.”

GVSU scored the first two goals of the game, but lost control of the game late in the second period when MSU rallied for three goals in less than five minutes. In a game they couldn’t afford to lose, the Lakers dug deep and played their best period of the tournament.

“What I like most about our team is our ability to fight through adversity,” Christopher said. “There’s been a few times this season when we’ve had to battle back. We’ve found ways to win those games.”

Chad Wilhelm scored his third goal of the tournament with 12:02 left in the game, and Christopher added his third less than two minutes later. With just under four minutes left, Brad Wilhelm gave the Lakers a 5-3 lead en route to a tournament victory.

The two teams will meet again in January for home-and-home series that may have big post-season implications.

“This win takes a lot of pressure off us because we can split that January series and still be ranked number one,” Christopher said. “But we still have to take care of business in the meantime.”

Three GVSU seniors were named to the all-tournament team: Christopher, Tiefenthal and defenseman Craig Marrett.
The Lakers return to the ice against the University of Michigan in a home-and-home series that begins Saturday.
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