Men’s DI club hockey wins GLCHL Conference Championship


Courtesy / Brianna Slager

Josh Carlson, Staff Writer

The Grand Valley State University men’s DI club hockey team pulled off an incredible first Great Lakes Collegiate Hockey League (GLCHL) playoff weekend, coming out on top with the underdog double-overtime win in the finals. Their first season as a DI team has proven to be the right move for the program, making history in their inaugural year together with the first place trophy to show for it.

Coming in as the no. 4 seed, their first-round matchup against no. 5 seed Western Michigan University took place on Feb. 24 in a near shutout 6-1 win. Moving into the semi-finals on Feb. 25 to face the no. 1 seed Adrian University, the Lakers found all three periods to be a dogfight.

After going scoreless in the first period, the Lakers ended the drought with 1:11 left in the second as junior center Evan Chomchai slipped through two defenders and found the back of the net to put the Lakers up 1-0.

In the third, Adrian tied it 1-1, but the Lakers found another hole in Adrian’s defense, ending with a goal from junior wing Zach Borchardt making it 2-1 Lakers.

Heading into this game, coach Carl Trosien knew it was going to be a tough matchup but was proud of how his team came out and played regardless of the seeding difference.

“I told them we have to play a clean game,” Trosien said. “They are a team (Adrian) that capitalizes on mistakes; they’ve been one of the best teams in the land for about eight years now. We had to make as few mistakes as possible and get pucks deep, and I thought we did a hell of a job of keeping it simple and playing playoff hockey.”

After taking out the no. 1 seed team, the Lakers knew the championship game wouldn’t come any easier.

The next day, Feb. 26, the Lakers showed up to the final championship game to face off against the no. 2 seed Davenport University. With a slow start to the high-intensity final game, the Panthers scored halfway through the first before they would go on another three-goal run in the second, putting the Lakers down by four.

Freshman defender Bryan Clahassey started off the Laker’s scoring with a goal 13 minutes into the second period, followed up by sophomore wing Sam Lechel’s goal 14 minutes in. In the pivotal third period, the Lakers put up three more goals from sophomore center Nick Sommerfield, junior wing Zack Kippe and Borchardt. The game was tied 5-5 and to increase the tension even more, the game headed into two overtimes.

For his final goal of the wildly successful season, Borchardt put the winning shot in the back of the net on a breakaway shot for the 6-5 win and the team erupted in cheers and threw their gear for a classic yard-sale celebration. Together they received their first GLCHL trophy as a DI team.

“This is surreal; I’m still trying to digest it,” Trosien said. “This is huge for us, it huge for the program, and it is huge for recruiting. It is great for what we are trying to do here as a program, but most importantly it is huge for the boys and building that foundation and getting us off on the right foot.”

While in other conferences this win would usually mean an automatic bid for the national tournament, the GLCHL has different rules and the regular-season champion is the team that gets an automatic bid, a rule that Trosien says the conference is planning to change this summer.

As to where they go from here, Trosien says he won’t spend too much time celebrating because he has some work to do.

“I think the best part of what just happened is that I have a really determined group,” Trosien said. “This is starting to hit that, when they play the right way, we have a special thing. I’d love to tell you that I’m going to sit back and enjoy this for a week or two, but really, I’m going to enjoy this for the weekend. Monday I’m going to start making phone calls because I’ve heard from a lot of recruits already. We are going to get better, and we are going to add some pieces that will help us get back to where we want to be in the end, which is with that (Nationals) trophy in mid-March.”