Mercyhurst hangs with OSU, comes away with 3-2 loss: What comes next

“ We hung around”

Mercyhurst Lakers Head Coach Rick Gotkin was direct with how both Mercyhurst and Ohio State did. The NCAA Tournament like game nearly saw the Atlantic Hockey side win another game against the Buckeyes. However on a day where their football team could not win, the Buckeyes hung on to secure a 3-2 win against a Mercyhurst team that nearly swept them missing three of their top scorers.

“ I don’t think either team got much going .” He summed up the night well with that that thought.

“I thought our best stretch was the first 10 minutes of the third period.” He didn’t knock the rest of the effort from his team but felt that was where most of the high danger chances were generated.

Gotkin praised the effort of Mickey Burns, the Vermont transfer, who put home a power play goal, called him a “ pleasant suprise for us.” He also talked about the play of Noah Kane and several others as being superb this weekend and behind.

“ We did some good things.” Praised goaltending from Kyle McClellan tonight, and goaltending on the weekend. McClellan like Johnson is laid back and calm in the net. Gotkin said “ we’re blessed, we’ve got two guys that can flat out win Hockey games for us, the challenge has been getting run support for those guys.” On the night, Gotkin was proud that”we came back twice today.” The Lakers have shown the ability to hang with any team of any skill level in the country this year. How many goals this team can score will, as Gotkin likes, determine their fate. This team is built to score four or more goals a night and make the opponent feel lucky to score two, when it’s humming.

On the lineup, other than stating McClellan, Gotkin made no other changes as the staff wanted to stick with what got them the win last night.

He did say that, “We really thought long and hard about trying.. to get in Carson Briere and a couple of other players.”

Now they prepare for Bentley. “ it’s a little bit tougher to win in conference.” “The price of play goes up.” The games have more emotion and built in intensity to them. Gotkin knows that Bentley’s feats of strength this year make them conference front runner contenders. He expects it to be harder than playing Ohio State on the road. For the skill of Mercyhurst they have to play through the grit of Bentley. “We’re going to have to skate, we’re going to have to make plays and use our feet.” “You give them enough looks on the power play .. they’ve got some guys that can hurt you. We really try to focus on what we do.” If the Lakers can steer their ship of skill and speed through Waltham, Massachusetts next weekend with some of their top talent back, all outcomes are on the table.

Mercyhurst earns 5-4 win over OSU:Now what?

After a slow start, the Lakers of Mercyhurst worked to earn a 5-4 win over number 17 ranked Ohio State on the road. Head Coach Rick Gotkin did note that the team did not have a morning skate today, and that while he is proud of this group he wants to see more reform them going forward.If the Lakers can get more good non conference fortunes then their postseason outlook improved even more

Mercyhurst did this while still missing two key players Carson Briere and Dante Sheriff. Gotkin wants to get Briere back in as early as tomorrow, but he’s unsure on timing as he wants all of his players to come back at full strength. “With that said we also need them to play a little bit.. it’s kind of a double edged sword.

Moving forward Gotkin understands what neeeds “ We know the formula to winning games against nationally ranked teams.” Good goaltending., staying out of the box and capitalizing on opportunities are all needs to win again tomorrow night. He praised netminder Hank Jo play, saying “Hank Johnson is such a calm, even tempered young man and he’s also a very good goaltender on top of it.” That demeanor helps Gotkin’s team push forward for goals. “ Our teams have always been built on skilled guys.”

Gotkin was impressed with how well his team despite going on defense throughout the third periodbm“ We really knew that Ohio State wasnt going to go away quietly… as tough as it was to give up those goals it was good to get it done.” Somehow Mercyhurst has scored ten goals in two games, without a lot of their key scorers in the lineup.

Gotkin said “it’s still early in the year but we’re moving in the right direction.”

“When you go up against nationally ranked teams ( and get the win) its a really good thing.” “This group was very happy after the game but the bus ride to the hotel was pretty subdued, they expect to win. It’s very satisfying to win but we are not satisfied.”

Rick Gotkin: Leading the Lakers forward humbly

“ I’ve been at the same school a long time and that’s been a blessing, to work at the same school for the last 35 years. With that I work with great assistant coaches, and student athletes. I just steer the ship a little bit, it’s about the student athletes. They’re the ones that make us look good.”

Rick Gotkin has been steering the ship of Mercyhurst Laker Hockey for the past 35 years and remains as humble as ever about his opportunity.

To start the year, Head Coach of the Mercyhurst Lakers Rick Gotkin’s group went to Minnesota to face the Golden Gophers and did not look out of place. Both nights the Lakers hung around and forced Minnesota to play in a tight game on their opener, or come back from behind to win in the finale. Gotkin built his team to be ready for that moment as she said “we try to find guys that score goals, and play fast, and then we teach them how to defend.”

In a conference full of tight checking defensive teams winning 2-1 games with not many chances, Gotkin is comfortable building groups of speed and skill that like playing fast and winning run and gun games. He has been at Mercyhurst for all but one year of the program’s existence so it seems clear he is on to something. He loves for his program to play big schools when possible, even only as away games in part to “spread the gospel of Mercyhurst Hockey.” Next year, his group doesn’t have any of those games but they will see Ohio State coming to Erie for two, a home and home with Penn State , alao RPI twice at home , and Clarkson twice on the road.

On the Minnesota weekend Gotkin said “ That’s a great environment to go into and out guys really embraced it. We were disappointed in the final result , and we felt like it was much closer than the score. He did praise the experience for bringing the group together saying, we felt as good as good as you can without winning.”

Most of his key players should be back soon that were scratched from the weekend. He expects Steve Ipri, Carson Briere, and Dante Sheriff back soon. Mercyhurst earned a split without all three of that group in Saturday’s game against Canisius.

Going forward, Gotkin doesn’t really have a set lineup yet. He said with picking who plays, at full strength, Gotkin said “ we really haven’t set our top 12 forwards yet.” His staff is still “ trying to see what people can do.”

Once his group is at full strength Gotkin said “ once we get healthy we have some big decisions to make, if we make the right ones we can be pretty good.”

Going forward for Gotkin, building the identity of Mercyhurst hockey is always the driving force year to year.

On staying in Mercyhurst for so long Gotkin added “ I think there’s a lot of reasons.” His wife is from Erie, kids were born and raised in Erie and are Mercyhurst graduates. The town has provided “a lifestyle we really love.”

Gotkin’s group has a tough road series against Ohio State coming this weekend. As the Lakers get their skilled players back into the lineup, look for them to continue to surprise people this season, much in the way they out performed expectations against Minnesota.

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