Three GVSU players picked for ACHA select team

GVL / Emily Frye 
Senior forward Nick Schultz on Nov. 20th.

GVL / Emily Frye Senior forward Nick Schultz on Nov. 20th.

Josh Peick

The American Collegiate Hockey Association has released the 23-man roster for the Division II men’s hockey select team which includes three players from the Grand Valley State Division II hockey club. Seniors Nicholas Schultz and Corbin Rainey, alongside junior Reede Burnett, will participate in competition overseas starting Dec. 27.

The ACHA Division II select team will play against the European university all-star team and other Division II and semi-professional teams from Germany, Norway and the Czech Republic. This is the first year the select team has toured Europe since the 2013-14 season.

GVSU head coach Mike Forbes will accompany the three Lakers on the trip. This will be Forbes’ third trip to Europe with the select team, and his second time as the head coach.

As head coach, it is Forbes’ decision on which players make the team. In April, an all-star tournament of 16 teams was held in Philadelphia, featuring players from across the nation. Forbes watched each game and handpicked a team he believes will best represent the ACHA.

GVSU’s three roster spots are tied with Florida Gulf Coast and Lindenwood University – Belleville for the most players from a single team. Like most of the roster, this is the first time on the select team for the GVSU players.

Schultz earning a spot on the roster comes with little surprise. Schultz leads the Lakers with 26 points, fueling an offense that has been putting up big numbers all season.

“It’s a really good feeling to be able to go overseas and represent the league and our university,” Schultz said.

Burnett has a similar feeling.

“It’s an opportunity of a lifetime,” he said. “You don’t really get many chances to play hockey overseas and play against upper-level competition.”

Burnett has notched 11 points this year, but his contributions on the defensive side of the puck outweigh the offensive production. Burnett was selected as a Second Team All-American last season.

Rainey, another forward, says the trip to Europe will be a highlight in his hockey career.

“It’s really an honor to go overseas and represent Grand Valley,” he said. “I only know a couple of kids that have done it before and they are some of the highest-caliber kids I have ever played with. It will be a great way to end a long hockey career of mine.”

Rainey has tallied 10 points on the season, but his speed on the ice will prove to be beneficial playing on an Olympic-style rink, which will be the format in all of the games.

The Olympic-style rink is 15 percent bigger than the typical rink used in Division II hockey. It is 15 feet wider, giving the players more time and space to move the puck and make plays.

Speed comes at a premium in international hockey. With the larger rink dimensions, it allows for speedy players to maneuver more easily on the ice.

But fast skating is not the only way to have speed.

“There are a number of ways to have speed,” Forbes said. “I am big advocate of having speed in the game that is not necessarily the fact that you’re a fast skater, but that you move the puck quickly. The puck moves faster than players do in every circumstance.”

Compared to hockey in the US, European hockey involves more strategy. European hockey relies on good passing and finding creative ways to enter the offensive zone. Establishing a forecheck on the bigger rink is much harder, forcing the defense to set up traps instead.

Forbes is familiar with international rinks from his three years coaching the select team, and expects the three Lakers to thrive overseas.

“All three of those guys, they play the game the way we ask them to play,” Forbes said. “I think they represent our jersey and represent our school very well.”

The Olympic-style rink is nothing new to the Lakers. In the national tournament the last couple of years, GVSU played a few games on Olympic-style rinks — an experience that will prove to be beneficial to the team, since the style of play is different.

The select team will begin play in Europe on Dec. 27 and conclude on Jan 6, 2016.