Laker hockey splits series against Michigan State

Freshman Riley Groenwoud prepares to make a shot on the goal during Saturdays match up against Michigan State.

Nicole Lamson

Freshman Riley Groenwoud prepares to make a shot on the goal during Saturday’s match up against Michigan State.

Greg Monahan

What a difference a day makes.

After struggling mightily to find the back of the net in East Lansing on Friday, losing 2-1, the Grand Valley State University men’s hockey team bounced back decidedly on Saturday night, cruising to a 4-1 win against Michigan State University.

The Lakers had a late flurry of shots to try and notch the tying goal Friday, but Spartan goalie Drake Todd made several huge saves to keep the Lakers off the board and almost single-handedly earn the win for his team.

Todd did not have the same luck on Saturday. GVSU scored two first-period goals before notching one each in the second and third periods, and senior goalie Grant Lyon made 28 saves on 29 shots to even the weekend series.

“We started on time today, we really got it going right at the puck drop,” said senior forward Eric Beaupre, who scored the first Laker goal Saturday night. “(Friday) we came out slow, we weren’t good in the second either, and then finally for maybe ten minutes in the third we played well. But tonight we got two right off the bat, and they got one but we never really looked back.”

Just 10 seconds after Beaupre scored with 14:07 left in the first, Brad Keough found a rebound and put it past Todd to put GVSU up 2-0.

“I was trailing (GVSU forward Derek Williams), and two guys came after him so I was calling for the drop pass,” said Keough, whose goal stood up to be the Lakers’ game-winner. “But he got a shot off somehow, it came out right to me, and I fired it as hard as I could. There was no way I was missing that one.”

The Lakers saw their streak of seven straight games with a power play goal end on Friday, and the team struggled with the man advantage throughout the weekend. The team had multiple power play opportunities each game but were unable to capitalize.

But that didn’t hurt the Lakers in the latter half of the series as the team notched four even-strength goals to salvage a split.

The goal of the game came off an unlikely stick for the Lakers, when senior defenseman Jake Vaughan stepped into a slapshot with just 16 seconds left in the second period and blasted the puck by Todd to give GVSU a 3-1 lead heading into the final frame. It was Vaughan’s first goal of the season.

“I wasn’t aiming or anything, I just put my head down and hit it as hard as I could,” Vaughan said. “I honestly didn’t know it went in. Chad (Wilhelm) was skating at me, screaming, so either he was mad or I had scored. It’s a relief to finally get one in. I’m just glad we won though. I don’t care if I don’t score as long as we win.”

GVSU has now won six of its last eight games and holds a 9-2 record against Division II opponents on the season. The team will face off against the University of Michigan this weekend in a home-and-home series.

“I think we’re really hitting our stride, we’re a confident team,” Beaupre said. “Michigan plays us tough every year, but hopefully we can come away with two wins there and really start picking up our game. Then we can hopefully get that automatic bid to nationals like we want.”

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