From Grand Valley Lanthorn
By Jason Millis
Grand Valley State University Division I men’s hockey club capitalized on their season with a pair of wins against Davenport University this past weekend and pushed their record to 12-3.
Ranked No. 3 overall in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA), the Lakers are now riding a six-game winning streak.
“We’re ranked higher than Davenport, so those were games we needed to win in essence,” said first-year head coach Matt Sekosan. “It’s another step in our succession of what we’re trying to accomplish as a team. We want to continue to build on that killer instinct and be mentally prepared for those tough games.”
The Nov. 4 match was a close battle as the Lakers hosted the Panthers in their home arena.
In a sluggish start, DU managed to slip the puck past junior goalie Devin Naidow (15:05) and take a 0-1 lead as neither side was able to put together a successful run for the remainder of the period.
The Panthers would add yet another goal to their tally to put themselves up 0-2 (8:01) and controlled the pace of the period until roughly four minutes left.
Senior defensive player Tyler Hofmann was the first player to put GVSU on the scoreboard, 1-2 (17:27) assisted by junior center Nick Sommerfield and senior forward Zach Kippe.
However, Sekosan knew that being down a goal heading into the final period is never a position the team wants to be in.
“After the second period, I sat them down to calm them down and do a sort of reset,” Sekosan said. “We were dominating the game possession but we got into some self-inflicted penalty trouble, which kept it tight. I reiterated we needed to play for each other and to stay under control, which set the tone for us to have a strong third period.”
Kippe started the third period off with a bang, tying the game 2-2 just over 90 seconds into play (1:36) as neither team managed to jump out in front for roughly another 12 minutes.
A costly slashing penalty by the Panthers set up the Lakers for a power play. Sophomore forward Carson Korte took advantage of the opponent being down a player as he scored just over a minute into the power play and put GVSU in the lead for the first time, 3-2 (13:22).
However, Davenport tied the game 3-3 less than two minutes later (15:12). Time would eventually expire and send the game into overtime.
Over four grueling minutes of not being able to score from both sides created the sense of a second overtime period, but junior forward Eric Hulford became the match hero as he slapped the sudden-death shot into the opponent’s net with seven seconds left to put the Panthers to bed, 4-3.
After clinching a nerve-wracking win on Friday, GVSU regrouped to prepare for the next game as Sekosan told the team to come into it with the same plan but strike on the opportunities given.
“Yesterday we controlled the majority of play,” Sekosan said. “We just didn’t capitalize on our opportunities. All we needed to do was come into the next game with the same game plan; just (force) that killer instinct.”
Having played the opponent just 24 hours previously, the Lakers took absolute control of the match and never looked back.
The Lakers jumped to an early lead with freshman defender Owen Limback and freshman forward Tristan Avoletta both scoring in the first five minutes of the game to put the team up 2-0.
GVSU kept the puck gliding, scoring twice during a power play as senior forward Shane Haggerty (assisted by Junior Gage Thrall) and sophomore defender Bryan Clahassey put the Lakers up 4-0 in the first 10 minutes of the period.
Davenport was nearly held to just zero goals in the period until a power play in their favor allowed them to finally put a goal on the board, 4-1.
Momentum remained on GVSU’s side of the ice as they continued to dominate the second period, scoring three more goals while holding Davenport to none.
Sommerfield scored first off an assist from Limback, as a couple of minutes later, Korte scored off a pass from Borchardt. Later on, with just over a minute left, Thrall (assisted by sophomore forward Josh Suzio) scored the final goal of the period, putting the Lakers ahead 7-1.
“If we get rolling, we’re going to continue to go,” said Sekosan. “That’s the name of the game for us. We came out firing pucks in the net early, and that got them frazzled enough for us to continue to roll.”
After another slow start in the third period, Davenport snuck the puck past the Lakers to score a second goal.
Borchardt would respond with a goal of his own, but the Panthers would soon find another opportunity as they scored just two minutes later for the final goal of the night.
The opponent would be handed a penalty soon after their third goal to give GVSU a power play that opened up two opportunities within 20 seconds of the power play beginning; Korte scoring off a pass from Suzio and senior forward Evan Chomchai adding the final goal with an assist from Hofmann.
The Lakers outshot Davenport 96-53 over the course of the weekend, (56 in game one, 40 in game two) while holding the Panthers to a shot output of 31 and 22 respectively.
Previously coaching the GVSU women’s hockey club team, Sekosan felt his move onto the men’s team was seamless thanks to leadership from the previous head coach, Carl Trosien.
“I worked a lot with the previous coach, Carl Trosein, and I got an idea of how the team operated,” Sekosan said. “I inherited a very good crew, but we worked hard to get this team to this point. We’ve implemented what we want Laker hockey to be in the future.”
Korte led GVSU’s offense with three goals and one assist across the two games. Hulford and Borchardt each totaled one goal and two assists, with Limback, Thrall, Kippe, Hofmann, Haggerty and Sommerfield all following with one goal and one assist each. Suzio totaled three assists in the two-game series.
Naidow goaltended the entirety of both games, saving 47 of the 53 shots Davenport attempted against him.
Having lost the first matchup earlier this season (1-7) against Adrian College, GVSU will face their opponent in their first of three matches this upcoming weekend.
“We are making sure everyone understands what needs to happen when tough situations occur,” Sekosan said. “We’re going over defensive zone extensively, as well as applying pressure on them to get pucks into positions to counterattack. We’re reiterating those things so we’re ready to go come Thursday.”
The Lakers will face two rivals in a three-game span, Adrian on Nov. 10 with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop while also facing Oakland for the second and third time this season (Nov. 11-12).
GVSU’s second match against Oakland will be played at the Griff’s Georgetown Ice Arena at 8 p.m.
(Originally published at https://lanthorn.com/94679/sports/gv-di-mens-hockey-club-defeats-crosstown-rival-in-two-games/)