The Calvin College Men’s Hockey team made a big jump following their National Runners-up finish in ACHA Division 3 last season. After going 29-4-1 and tying a program record for wins in a season, the Knights made the move to ACHA Division 1.
Calvin joined a premier D1 conference (GLCHL) which meant that the schedule would not be easy: 16 games against preseason top 25 ACHA D1 teams, a four game series and rematch of the National Championship game against Aquinas College (NAIA) and other tough non-conference matchups.
After months of anticipation, the opening weekend proved to be worth the wait. The Knights faced a nationally ranked and tough opponent, #24 Western Michigan, in a home and home series.
Opening night of the season was played at home in front of a lively crowd and they saw a familiar face in goal as the Knights started Junior Alex Gross. He was stellar in the first period and turned away all 10 shots that he faced to keep the score even to end the first period 0-0.
The second period was a different story as WMU got on the board just 3:28 into the period. The Knights answered quickly when Junior Defenseman Sean Johnson scored his first career goal to tie the score with 14:57 left to play. WMU then scored a power play goal to regain the lead 2-1 with 5:13 left to play in the period.
That lead carried through the end of the second period and much of the third period. It wasn’t until Freshman Sam Dexter scored a spectacular goal with just 6 seconds left to tie the game, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
Overtime provided a lot of excitement and chances at both ends. The Knights were forced to play a man down after taking a penalty and executed the penalty kill perfectly. With 1:33 left in OT Calvin was rewarded with a power play of their own. After a series of chances Freshman Christian Gums netted the winner with only 23 seconds left with some great passing from Alex Huizenga and Jared Virtanen.
Goalie Alex Gross stopped 38 shots and earned the win… Christian Gums had two assists to go with his goal... Alex Huizenga and Sam Dexter both had two points…