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Lamp Lighters

Tribune Staff • Dec 7, 2017 at 12:44 AM

The Grand Haven/Spring Lake co-op hockey team is already off to a strong start this season with a 3-2-1 record.

The Buccaneers are currently on a three-game winning streak after starting off the season with three straight overtime contests in which the club finished 0-2-1.

Grand Haven turned things around with a 5-4 win over Portage Northern on Nov. 25, and followed that up with road sweep of Jenison (6-2) and Kalamazoo United (4-1) last weekend.

Here’s a deeper look at how the Buccaneers look this winter.

Head Coach: Keegan Ferris

Last season: 12-12 in the regular season; finished second in the Tier 3 conference; lost to Rockford in the pre-regional round.

Key Players: Junior Trevor Kalis (eight points on the season), senior Austin Fox (eight points), junior Kyle Eveland (eight points), senior Branden Beeler (six points), junior Jake Johnson (five points) and senior goalie Finn Bylsma (.934 save percentage this season).

“Every member of our team is a key player this year,” said Ferris. “It will take every player on the roster for us to reach our goals by buying into team philosophy and culture and being the best that they can be at their given roles.”

Outlook

“We have an intentionally difficult non-conference schedule to help us improve to the point that we reach our goal to win conference and make a run in the playoffs. It has been a few years since the Buccaneers’ hockey team has won a game in the playoffs, and our hope is to change that this year.

“Our conference will be a competitive one, as it always is. Anything can happen on any given day, and we need to bring our best game to each conference opponent.

“We have a very eager group to "Be Better." That is our motto. Every day, we have to be better than the day before. I think, so far this season, we have done exactly that. The sky is the limit with this team. We have a lot of potential and have established a strong culture to continue to put Grand Haven/Spring Lake hockey back on the map.

“The support we have gotten from our student body at Grand Haven and Spring Lake is unbelievable. I think students have found hockey to be a fast and very exciting sport, especially with how close the students are able to get to the action at our home rink Lakeshore Sports Centre.

“We have established the student section as the "Coin Crew" and they bring a lot of energy to our games.”

FRUITPORT/KENOWA HILLS

Head Coach: Wayne Skislak

Last year: 3-20

Key Players: Forwards Kevin Hardy (Kenowa Hills) and Andrew Ledkins (Kenowa Hills), defensemen Cole Cook (Fruitport) and George Cassis (Kenowa Hills).

“Cole is 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds and is off to a fast start for us with three goals in five games,” said Skislak. “He has good size and has been our best defenseman so far this season.”

Other key players include: Michal Boor (Kenowa Hills), junior forward Brendan Deneen (Fruitport) and junior defenseman Jason Klimsza (Fruitport), sophomore forwards Gabe Partridge and Logan Granger and sophomore goalie Derek Smith.

“Brendan has two goals already this season and is a big part of our special teams unit,” Skislak said. “He has the speed to cause problems on the opposing team and he creates a lot of scoring chances because of that.”

Outlook

“It’s been a tough couple of years for our program with only three wins per season in the last few years,” said Skislak. “We are a very young team with nine freshmen and sophomores. We have had a tough start so far this season, but we are getting better and better every day. Unfortunately, that hasn’t translated into wins just yet.

“The coaching staff knew that the first six weeks of the season were going to be tough, but we are excited about the roster we have. We have played well in stretches, but just haven’t been consistent enough for 51 minutes to win contests.

“I think we will be more consistent as the season goes on and we all gain some valuable experience along the way.”

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