Hockey team shows promise in recent games
Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
Despite the hockey team’s 6-2 loss to Grand Valley State University in the Homecoming game, the Blue Devils’ coaching staff was pleased with the way their team played. However, it was the Blue Devil fans that really impressed them.
(For the latest news on the hockey team, go to www.bluedevilathletics.com. The next home game is Nov. 4 at 8 p.m. against Lansing Community College.)
“The fans were the highlight,” said Assistant Coach Vince Doyle. Head Coach Ken Gaffney and Assistant Coach Frank Velluci agreed that the fans showed school spirit like they haven’t seen before.
Lawrence Tech students wearing Blue Devils’ attire lined up along the glass cheering on their team non-stop from the first drop of the puck to the end of the game. An appreciative hockey team saluted their fans before leaving the ice after the game.
However, the Grand Valley Lakers didn’t let the fans bother them. The Lakers took control of the puck as soon as it was dropped, scoring their first goal before the game was two minutes old. They scored their second goal with just over five minutes left in the first period as the puck curved around LTU’s goalie George Grzywacz.
Then, with less than a minute remaining in the period, the Devils’ senior defenseman Mark Koenigsknecht scored LTU’s first goal of the season with assists from freshman defenseman Brandon Moss and freshman forward John Fick. The first period ended with the Devils down 2-1.
Grand Valley scored two more goals in the second period, but a bright spot for the Blue Devils came when freshman forward Alex Finazzo scored his first college career goal with 1:27 remaining in the second period. Assisting Finazzo on the play were Fick and Koenigsknecht.
Unfortunately, the Lakers scored two more goals early in the third period to put the game on ice.
“We played a good team from Grand Valley,” said Coach Gaffney, who thought the team was in a position to pull it out until the Lakers scored back-to-back goals in just over a minute kill LTU’s momentum.
Even with the loss, the coaching staff praised their team’s efforts.
Coach Gaffney said junior goalie George Grzywacz played well. He faced 50 shots and only allowed six goals, good for a 88 percent save percentage for the game.
“Joe Donenlko, one of the captains, played tenaciously. He did a great job, stepped up and played a solid game,” said Doyle said.
He went on to say that the team is just learning to play together. “We have 13 new players trying to get used to the Blue Devil system.”
Blue Devils lose to Calvin at home
Clad in their new blue uniforms, the LTU skaters had a strong performance at home against the Calvin University Knights on Oct. 21, but ended up losing, 5-3.
Head coach Ken Gaffney said, “We skated even with Calvin and carried more of the play throughout the game. Unfortunately, they were able to capitalize on a few breakdowns and some costly turnovers that gave them a comfortable lead to protect.
“What I really liked in the contest was our team play. Our Blue Devils kept on charging, mindful of their responsibilities, and good things started to happen. Eventually we were able to make a strong push in the third period that brought the score closer to what the play indicated.”
LTU Stars of the Game: #1 John Fick (10), #2 Alex Finazzo (32), and #3 Levi Laframboise (26). This trio was skating together for the first time, and managed to shut down the opposition and tally two goals for LTU.
Although the final score ended in Calvin’s favor, the tenacity and productive potential of the LTU skaters is clearly on the rise, according to Gaffney.
LTU skaters lose return match in shootout
In a return match at Calvin College on Oct. 22, the Blue Devils lost, 4-3, in a shootout after hanging tough through three periods and five minutes of overtime.
Building off the momentum from the previous evening, the Blue Devils refused to let Calvin get a cushion. The game was very physical from the start.
Assistant Coach Vince Doyle observed, “Calvin was noticeably more aggressive on the boards and tried to knock our guys off the puck. We saw more of their top lines in the first two periods, which was a credit to the solid performance we had Friday night.”
With the score tied at one after the first period, the play continued to escalate physically in the second period. Mark Koenigsknecht’s passionate play garnered the attention of Calvin attackers. Shortly into the period, a Calvin player submarine-checked “Koney” taking his legs out form under him and cart-wheeling #16 for the Devils.
Without any acknowledgement from the official of an infraction, Koenigsknecht sought revenge on his own and was cited with a five-minute penalty and a DQ for his retaliation on the perpetrator. Already a man down at the time and in penalty-killing (PK) mode, the Devils went on to kill in excess of nine minutes of continuous shorthanded play.
The third period began in similar fashion, strong and physical, and more PK circumstances for LTU. Eventually Calvin converted on their power play with just seven seconds remaining on a penalty to which the LTU staff had taken great exception.
Following the goal, the Devils were assessed a bench penalty, which the Knights converted quickly, putting LTU down by two goals. But the men in blue were determined to even the score. Nick Lemmo tallied the first of two on the power play with assists from the Donaldson brothers. Less than two minutes later, Joe Donelko evened the score, assisted by freshman Brandon Moss.
Regulation ended in a 3-3 tie, as did the five-minute OT. Calvin was able to score on the third shootout attempt, but LTU was blanked.
LTU stars of the Game: #1 Joe Donelko (19), 2 goals; #2 Nick Lemmo (6), 1 goal, 1 assist ; #3 Levi Laframboise (26), 2 blocks, 4 takeaways.
Post-game observations from Coach Gaffney: “I’m very pleased to see the team shut down the opposition and generate scoring chances. I liked the power play efficiency. I liked the penalty kill successes, and I liked our goal tending. Shot totals were held close, despite close to twice the time in penalty minutes. They all executed according to plan today, top to bottom, and were in a position to win right to the very end. It took hard work to get to where we are as a team, and the benefits are starting to show. Yet despite all the positives, there is more work needed, since we are still winless.”