GVSU DI roller hockey sweeps MCRHL tournament

GVL / Courtesy - GVSU Club Sports

GVSU Club Sports

GVL / Courtesy – GVSU Club Sports

Jake Carroll

The Grand Valley State club roller hockey team (Division I) recently traveled to Homer Glen, Illinois Saturday, Nov. 19 and Sunday, Nov. 20 to compete in the MCRHL Tournament, where the team went undefeated.

“It took us a little time to adjust,” GVSU defenseman Kenny Washburn said. “By the end of the tournament, we really came together.”

The teams that were present for the tournament were Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan and Miami of Ohio.

The tournament came after a long break of almost a month off of competition. They had no problem shaking off any rust.

In the first game against Miami of Ohio, the Lakers pulled out both a win and a shutout. The shutout, though, was no easy task. Goaltender Aaron Mizgalski turned away 31 shots on net to claim his second shutout of the season.

“That was one of my best games I’ve had in a while,” Mizgalski said. “It was one of those games where everything just seemed to hit me.”

Mizgalski also wanted to give credit to his defense for blocking a lot of shots towards the end of the game that were close scoring chances.

He hadn’t always played between the pipes, either. When he first joined the GVSU roller hockey team, he was actually a defenseman. Coach Washburn made the switch because Mizgalski had former goaltender experience.

A tougher challenge for the Lakers awaited with the Western Michigan Broncos, who scored early, putting the Lakers under pressure. If it weren’t for Laker Cody Hagen’s hat-trick, the Lakers could have been handed their only loss of the tournament. GVSU was able to escape with a 7-3 win against the Broncos.

GVSU topped off their tournament with a win over Eastern Michigan.

In a scoring frenzy, the Lakers took down Eastern with a final score of 13-7. Kenny Wurth tallied three goals in as many minutes.

“The boys are hot,” Wurth said. “We are looking forward now, but it’s important we just take it one game at a time.”

The team will not play again until Saturday, Jan. 21, and every competition is important, but the Lakers are also focused on their national tournament in April which takes place in Ft. Meyers, Florida.

GVSU has been in the tournament before, and have shown great success in past years. The team has made it to the Sweet 16 three years in a row. This is not enough for Washburn, though.

“It’s time to grow and ascend from the plateau,” Washburn said. “It’s time to take that next step. We can be a Final Four team.”

GVSU is focused on improving as a team and truly becoming a big threat in the league, and possibly make a run for the championship title.

“Either you’re getting better or you’re getting worse. We are taking the little steps to make sure we’re getting better,” Washburn said. “You have to have the mentality and work ethic of a last-place team.”

The Lakers will compete again Jan. 21-22 at the Joe Dumars Fieldhouse in Shelby Township, Michigan.