March 8, 2004
Calvin Hockey Wins It All!
Saturday's victory over Georgia completed a three-day tournament run that saw Calvin rip off four straight victories to capture its first-ever national championship. Calvin finishes the year with a sparkling 29-1 record, establishing a new Calvin single-season record for victories.
Calvin sophomore forward Max Sieplinga of Grand Rapids Christian High School was voted the tournament's Most Valuable Player on offense and landed a spot on the all-tournament team for the second straight year. Sieplinga finished the tournament with four goals including the final goal in Calvin's 5-0 win over Georgia Saturday night.
Calvin opened the tournament with a 5-0 victory over the University of Richmond on Thursday morning and then topped South Dakota State 8-3 Thursday night.
In a Friday semifinal contest, top-seeded Calvin met second-seeded Arizona State University which also happened to be the host of the 16-team tournament. Trailing 1-0 early on, Calvin rallied for three first period goals to take a 3-1 lead and then broke open a 3-2 lead with two goals in the third including a game-clinching goal by junior Jason Koole (Tri-unity Christian HS) into an empty net that finished off a 5-2 Calvin victory.
"That was a huge victory," said Calvin coach Mike Petrusma after the conclusion of the tournament. "We knew Arizona State was a high-flying offensive team and we knew it would be difficult winning in its own back-yard. That victory gave us a lot of confidence for the championship final."
In the final, Calvin freshman goaltender Gregory Clark (LaPorte, IN) collected his second shutout of the tournament while the Knights scored once in the first and once in the second to take a 2-0 lead into the final period of play. Koole picked up Calvin's first goal with sophomore Nick VerKuyl (Whitby, ON)scoring the second goal for the Knights.
"We felt pretty good about a two-goal lead," said Petrusma. "Our defense was sensational throughout the tournament and we felt that two goals was good enough to get the job done. At the same time, we wanted to keep attacking when the opportunities were there."
Calvin did just that as Koole scored his team-leading sixth goal of the tournament early in the third period to give the Knights a 3-0 lead. Calvin then went up 4-0 on goal by freshman Bryan Bandstra (Terrace, BC), only to suffer back-to-back penalties which gave the Bulldogs a two-man advantage. It soon became a three-man advantage as Georgia lifted its goaltender but Sieplinga made the Bulldogs pay as he won a faceoff, beat a gaggle of Georgia defenders on a sprint up the ice and lifted a shot into an empty Georgia net with 50 seconds left to play."
"Wow. What an accomplishment for this group of guys," said Petrusma. "We have such a wonderful blend of players who play so well together. We've got players from West Michigan, Canada and all over the United States but they're like a group of brothers who always look out for each other. I'm just tickled pink to see this group win a national championship."
Calvin sophomore defensiveman Elijah DeGroot (Sarnia, ON) and VerKuyl were also named to the all-tournament first team.
Hope College took fifth at the tournament with a 3-1 record as the Flying Dutchmen split their first two games before rebounding to win their final two.
Other local players on the Calvin ice hockey team included sophomore defensiveman Dave Veeneman (Grand Rapids Christian HS), sophomore forward Nate Heuker (South Christian HS), junior defensiveman Isaac Hoogland (Grand Rapids Christian HS) and sophomore forward Dan DeKorne (Grand Rapids Christian HS).
Prior to this season, Calvin had made two trips to the ACHA Division III Championships, finishing third in 1993 and in 2003.
~written by sports information director Jeff Febus