Lakers drop two games in hard-fought battles against Adrian

Shawn Robinson, Staff Writer

GVL / Aubree Wagner (Aubree L Wagner)

The no. 45 Grand Valley State University (3-8) men’s club hockey team fell short to no. 5 Adrian College (8-2) in a two-game series this past Oct. 21-22, losing 8-2 on Thursday at Adrian and 12-5 Friday at Griff’s Georgetown. These were the first matchups of the season between the two teams since the 2019-21 season where the Lakers dropped both games against the Bulldogs in two shutouts. 

Thursday’s contest was lopsided from start to finish for the Lakers, as the Bulldogs outshot them, 47-29. In the first, Adrian had four goals by four different players and jumped to an early 4-0 lead. 

The second period started much better for GVSU as junior defender Tyler Hofmann had a long shot to the goal that was deflected by Adrian goaltender Dylan Knighton but rebounded to junior wing Zach Borchardt for the Lakers first score of the game, cutting into the deficit 4-1. 

It was then only a matter of time before Adrian came back again with another goal of their own after a Brandon Stanko shot into the net. 

Going into the third period, GVSU was looking for an offensive push as freshman wing Josh Suzio sniped a shot into goal during the power play after a hooking call, still down 4-2. 

Adrian then converted on their power play chance after Samuel Spaedt found the net for another score, increasing the Bulldog’s advantage to three. The Bulldogs capped the game with a couple of insurance goals by Dakota Bohn and Spaedt to take the first game of the series 8-2. 

While the Lakers are compiled of a heavily young team, the only veteran players are juniors who have been seeing a lot of improvement and success since their last go with the Bulldogs two years ago. For Chomchai, Haggerty, Borchardt and junior wing Zach Kippe, being able to compete with Adrian this time around was a win in itself.

“When those guys get there (the front of the net), they’re pretty dangerous,” said coach Carl Trosien. “For me, it’s getting guys that want to go there more often and getting pucks net-front; if we can do that, we’re going to have some success. And Adrian is the best team in the land and they’re really, really good at doing that.”

On Friday night, GVSU sophomore goalie Zach Allen’s 30-save game fell short as the Lakers dropped game two of the series 12-5. 

The first period was a thriller as 24 shots were taken and four power play opportunities were successful between the two teams. Adrian was able to strike first after a hooking call on the Lakers as Matthew Dicesare got the puck right in front of the net to put them ahead 1-0. 

It was only two minutes in before Adrian scored again when Tyler Fyfe got the rebound for an easy tap in power play goal. Through 10:28 minutes of play, the Bulldogs converted twice. 

With the clock winding down, GVSU was desperately looking to score. After a penalty by Adrian, Borchardt found the net as freshman defender Bryan Clahassey gave him a great pass to set up the score, cutting the lead, 2-1. Two minutes later, sophomore wing Sam Lechel scored a power play goal after another assist from Clashassey. 

“For a while there, Haggerty and Borchardt were scoring but you weren’t seeing other kids on the score sheet,” Trosien said. “Now you’re seeing Lechel on the score sheet, now you’re seeing Suzio on the score sheet, so it’s really just trying to get that line going because you can’t be one-dimensional.”

With the score knotted after the first period, both teams looked to take the lead. Adrian goalie Harrison Fleming took care of business as GVSU had nine shots on goal but failed to score. The Bulldogs scored a total of five goals in the second period with Connor Smith drawing first blood, Matteo Digiulio netting two, and setting up Matthew Cruz and Nash Hatcher for an insurance and game-winning goal before heading into the second intermission. 

The third period showed a total of nine goals between the two teams with Adrian’s Digiulio scoring first on a power play. Smith, Dylan Kent, and Alec Daman added their names to the scoring sheet for Adrian, extending their lead 11-1. 

GVSU was finally able to net a score at the 11:44 mark when junior wing Shane Haggerty received a pass from Borchardt to cut the deficit to nine goals. 

Adrian still kept their foot on the pedal and scored once more after Ethan Mclaughlin scored for the first time. Haggerty then found the goal again 1:22 later before scoring another, giving him 10 goals on the season. 

“Obviously they’re (Adrian) defending national champions, they were one in the country until last week so they’ve been the top team in the land for the past three years,” Trosien said. “That being said, we scored seven goals this weekend. We’re showing this potential, we’re just not able to string it together for a full 60 against a team like that yet, but there are some bright spots and there are some things we can build off of.”

The Lakers will face Calvin University in a two-game series this weekend hoping to come back from their first losing matchup against the Knights with a home game Friday, Oct 29 at Griff’s Georgetown where the first 100 Laker fans will receive a free t-shirt to celebrate their sixth home game of the season, and an away game on Saturday, Oct. 30.