Lakers tripped up twice in nationals to end season

Courtesy Photo /
Members of the Grand Valley womens hockey team

Courtesy Photo / Members of the Grand Valley womens hockey team

Greg Monahan

The Grand Valley State University women’s hockey team had one day to get revenge on two familiar opponents this weekend at the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s National Championships. However, like earlier in the season, the Lakers came up short.

In the opening day of the ACHA tournament, the No. 6-ranked Lakers took on No. 3 University of Rhode Island in the morning and No. 1 Lindenwood University at night. GVSU had already played both teams in late 2010, and the 6-1 loss to Rhode Island on the weekend was all too similar to a 7-2 loss to the Rams on Nov. 12.

“Rhode Island is a team that has our number,” said GVSU head coach Cory Whitaker. “We just can’t seem to put any complete game together against them. We played them great in the first period. In the second, they took advantage of a power play, and we just did not show up for the third period. They dominated us everywhere on the ice.”

The Lakers were tied 1-1 heading into the first intermission, but five unanswered goals from the Rams put GVSU into a must-win situation against Lindenwood.

GVSU stuck with the Lions throughout in the team’s second game in the tournament, but trailing 3-2 with less than a minute to go, the Lakers, trying to set up and pull their goalie, gave up a breakaway goal that sealed their fate and sent Lindenwood to the semifinals.

“We played really, really well against Lindenwood,” said senior forward Ashley Rumsey. “That’s what we’re most proud of because we knew it was going to be the hardest game coming in to it, and we really stepped up against Lindenwood, and that shows a lot to everyone. Even though we did go 1-2 on the weekend, people who watched really saw who Grand Valley was.”

Although the team opened with two losses and knew they would not advance to the semifinals, the season ended with a win as GVSU took down the University of Michigan on Friday by a score of 4-1.

Sophomore Shelby Kucharski had two goals for GVSU, as did senior Lynn Loechli, who, like Rumsey, was playing in her final game as a Laker.

“That was definitely a good win for us and a good way to finish up the season,” said sophomore forward Sammie Baker, who chipped in an assist in the 4-1 win. “We played really well as a team and all our systems ran great. At that point we were just excited to be there.”

As the Lakers say goodbye to two seniors, it is Rumsey who is the only player who remains from the team that went 1-20 just four seasons ago. Since that dreadful season, the Lakers have made the national tournament in each of the three years since.

“It’s amazing how far we’ve come,” said Rumsey, who led the team in scoring the past three years. “We really picked it up and turned it around. It was so cool to be a part of that and watch the whole team transform from a team that literally had girls who had never played hockey before to being able to compete against the best team in the nation.”

[email protected]