GVSU DIII hockey suffers rough weekend

GVL / Emily Frye 
on Jan. 22nd.

GVL / Emily Frye on Jan. 22nd.

Alex Eisen

The Grand Valley State Division III men’s hockey team put forth a valiant effort over the weekend by battling back in both games of a home-and-away series against conference rival Aquinas (20-2-1-1), but could only come away with a tie.

The Lakers (18-8-2-0) fell behind early at home and lost 6-4 on Jan. 22, then skated to a 5-5 draw on Jan. 23 at Southside Ice Center.

“We (struggled) the first 10 minutes of the first game, but after that we played the way we should,” said GVSU head coach Charlie Link. “I don’t like to tie and I don’t like to lose. But, we are OK with (a tie) after the way we played.”

Aquinas forward William Warren emphatically opened the scoring Friday night at the Georgetown Ice Center with a crafty toe-drag deke that allowed him to maneuver into GVSU’s defensive zone and eventually slip the puck past sophomore goaltender Jake Lindsay.

The Lakers couldn’t regroup fast enough. The Saints struck again less than two minutes later on the power play, and once more near the end of the period off a breakaway, to take a commanding three-goal lead into the first intermission.

“You can win a game or lose a game in the first period,” said senior Blaine Marney. “While we didn’t really lose the game in the first period, it didn’t help us going down 3-0 by any means.”

The Lakers’ desperate comeback attempt started with 12:35 left in the second period. GVSU got on the scoreboard as Marney exploited a two-on-one situation by going high stick side over the goaltender, while the Aquinas defender flopped to the ice to take away the passing lane.

Both teams traded a couple of quality scoring chances before a pair of defensemen found the back of the net. First, Aquinas’ Tyler Layle found the twine with a seeing-eye slap shot from the blue line off a power play faceoff win at 13:53 into the second.

The goal was matched 1:02 later by GVSU’s Derek Simon to make the score 4-2. Earning the assist, freshman forward Scott Schueneman shielded off an Aquinas defenseman, hooking him on a breakaway long enough to execute a perfect drop pass, leaving Simon with an easy finish.

The Lakers had two vital opportunities to cut the deficit to one goal going into the third period, but failed to convert in the final five minutes on a 5-on-3 man advantage and a subsequent power play. GVSU finished 0-for-7 on the power play.

“The first couple (of power plays) were definitely rocky,” Marney said. “But, we planned something out in practice and stuck to that it. It didn’t work out at first, but hopefully we can implement it better tomorrow and see better success.”

An eventful four-goal third period saw Aquinas regain its three-goal lead 1:31 into the final stanza. GVSU countered with a rebound goal from freshman Mitchell Lawton three minutes later and a short-handed goal by sophomore Henry Mikesell to make things interesting at 5-4 with 2:05 remaining.

But, before the Lakers could pull Lindsay from the crease for an extra attacker, Aquinas forward Matt Krzykwa found Nathan Aloisio streaking across center ice for his team-leading 20th goal of the season.

GVSU outshot Aquinas 35-31, but the Lakers were unable to dictate the flow of the game in critical moments as they couldn’t stay out of the penalty box, racking up 28 penalty minutes.

Far fewer penalties were issued in the second game on Saturday, but the action on the ice was just as eventful.

A five-goal first period had GVSU leading 3-2 with goals from senior Eric White (3:03), junior Mitch Kahl (16:55) and senior Nate Dykstra (17:48).

Aquinas tied the game up in the second period with a goal scored from an almost-impossible angle along the boards in the corner.

“A couple weak goals by them, but Jack (Lindsay) bailed us out a few times, so we had to bail him out,” Link said.

The Saints came out fast to start the third period getting a goal from Zachary Grover at the 1:46 mark and, exactly one minute later, Aloisio slotted home his second goal of the game.

Undeterred, the Lakers rattled the crossbar midway through the period and minutes later drew within one on a controversial Lawton goal that apparently eked across the goal line as a scrum ensued in front of the net.

Marney buried the equalizer 1:04 later off a pinpoint cross-crease pass from Nate Dykstra.

With under two minutes to play in regulation, Lindsay made an acrobatic diving save to send the game into overtime. Chances were hard to come by in the extra frame, and the game finished in a lively 5-5 stalemate.

“I thought we played very well,” Lawton said. “We got down a couple goals, but we battled through and ended up with a tie. So, it’s a win for us.”

GVSU faces Adrian College next weekend for another home-and-away series.