May 17, 2012

Grand Valley Dethrones Davenport

by Jac Coyne | | Coyne Archive | Twitter

Tyler Farmer scored a critical goal at the end of the third quarter, helping Grand Valley State defeat Davenport in the MCLA Division II semifinals and ending the Panthers run as defending champions.
© Cecil Copeland

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Grand Valley State scored four consecutive goals over a six-minute span, breaking open a one-goal game and giving the second-seeded Lakers a 15-11 victory over sixth-seeded and defending national champion Davenport on Thursday morning at the MCLA Division II tournament.

GVSU (18-1) advances to the national championship game for the first time since 2008, and will face the winner of the St. Thomas-Dayton game on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in Sirrine Stadium.

Holding an 11-10 lead with 11:35 left in the contest, Grand Valley ballooned the lead to 13-10 in a heartbeat as Andrew Laycock and Chase Smith connected 13 seconds apart. With the pressure on the Panther offense, the Lakers' defense was stifling, forcing multiple Davenport (14-6) turnovers and allowing Tyler McCullen to feed Jeremy Pouba for an easy crease finish and an insurmountable, 14-10 lead with 4:56 left.

Jack Dumsa found Michael Garner 1:10 later for an easy conversion that sealed it.

The Lakers were led by the attack duo of Dumsa (2g, 3a) and Pouba (3g, 1a), while Ian O'Brien was critical at the faceoff dot for GVSU, winning 18-of-28 draws on the afternoon. O'Brien grabbed five of seven in the final frame to prevent any comebacks by Davenport.

Both teams tried to create separation in the first half with no success.

Davenport made the initial bid in the first quarter when a pair of passes on the crease found Lyle Parks and Daniel Hume to give the Panthers a 4-2 edge. The Lakers would answer before the end of the half with a 15-yard bomb from Conor Schwalm before Pouba shook his defender for an easy back-hander past Zach Higgins.

After Davenport opened the second quarter with a goal by Jack Turcotte off a spin move, the Lakers went on a four-goal run, culminating with Grand Valley netminder goalie Danny Kransberger clearing the ball himself and then unleashing a shot unmolested from 10 yards that beat Higgins lower left, providing the Lakers with an 8-5 cushion.

Faced with the prospect of getting steamrolled, Davenport answered Kransberger's strike less than a minute later as Jordan Richtsmeier fed Cody Cross. Ten ticks later, Richtsmeier hit Dominic Baggiano with a cross-crease feed for a one-timer, trimming the margin to 8-7 heading into the break.

At the start of the second half, Schwalm pushed the GVSU lead back to two on a power move to the goal (drawing a flag in the process), but Turcotte backed his way in for a marker before setting up Lyle Parks, who tied the game at nines with 5:33 left in the third frame.

Just as it looked like the two teams would head into the final quarter tied, Pouba fed Tyler Farmer on the crease on a man advantage with nine seconds remaining to give the Lakers a 10-9 lead, setting up GVSU's winning finish.

Higgins made 10 saves for Davenport before being replaced by Alex Buque, whot turned away five shots. Kransberger was credited with six saves, along with his goal. Grand Valley held a commanding, 49-27 advantage in shots.

The last visit for Grand Valley State to the title game was in '08 when they faced Westminster, bowing 17-10 to the Griffins. This was the last game for Davenport in MCLA Division II, as the Panthers are moving to Division I, as well as for DU head coach Bob Clarkson, who announced that this is his final year as head coach.

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