Interim Lake Forest coach seeks to turn tide

Lake Forest’s coach hopes to parlay last weekend’s pair of wins over Concordia (Wis.) into a better second-half campaign.

Interim coach Seamus Gregory makes the case his Foresters are a better team than their 4-11 overall record indicates. The team (4-6 MCHA) travels to Ashland, Wis., for games against Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association-rival Northland (4-11, 3-7) Friday and Saturday.

Prior to the 6-1 emphatic victory over the rebuilding Falcons (1-15, 1-10) on Jan. 12, Lake Forest was mired in an 11-game losing skid. Some of the losses came to ranked teams, where the fledgling Foresters were edged out by a goal.

Against then-No. 11 Milwaukee School of Engineering on Jan. 8, the Foresters led 2-1 before surrendering two goals in the last five minutes to lose 3-2.

The team also fell to then-No. 3 St. Norbert, 2-1, on Nov. 23,”which was kind of a moral victory for our team,” Gregory said.

A 3-1 loss (the third goal an empty-netter) to then-No. 12 Adrian and a 1-0 setback at St. Olaf Nov. 27 only added to the Foresters’ heartbreak tale during the first half.

“We’re not as mature as those teams,” said Gregory, a former assistant coach who was named to the interim role after Tony Fritz retired after 32 years. “The boys and myself are trying to find ways in which we are growing in the aspect of learning how to win those games. It’s very difficult.

“There’s nothing harder in the world than trying to win a college hockey game with the emotion, the crowd…I basically go back to it as testosterone hockey.”

Gregory, who’s eager to shed the interim in his title, has a plan to  move the Foresters into the MCHA’s high-rent district.

The Harbour Grace, Newfoundland native is refocusing recruiting efforts to include U.S. East Coast prep schools, as well as Western Canada, to create a more “blended roster.” Nearly half, 12 of 28 players, on the team’s roster at season’s start hailed from Ontario.

He also wants to zero in on those character players who have the academic heft to succeed at Lake Forest.

Next season, the Foresters have added New England Small College Athletic Conference teams Amherst, Trinity and Salve Regina to their schedule to make Lake Forest hockey “a NESCAC school in the Midwest,” Gregory adds.

Gregory concedes his season as interim boss has been both humbling and honorable.

On the ice, the Foresters have struggled to score goals. The team’s 31 goals in 10 league games ranks No. 5 in the MCHA.

Some bright spots though, include the play of sophomore Thomas Bark, whose 3 goals and 10 assists for 13 points leads the team; as well as the leadership shown by defenseman and captain Trent Brown (2-5-7).

Off ice, the team did shed an unspecified number of players due to discipline problems, which Gregory declined to elaborate on.

“One of the things I’m very proud of is that I only assisted Tony Fritz for two years and then he passed the torch over to me,” Gregory said. “That being said, I do have the confidence in myself and my staff to turn the tide of Lake Forest College hockey back to where it was five or six years ago.”

Coghlin closing in
St. Norbert coach Tim Coghlin is a victory shy from becoming the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association’s all-time winningest coach.

The No. 2 Green Knights face Wisconsin-Superior tonight (Thursday) and Friday. The games were moved to Amsoil Arena due to ongoing repairs to the reat the Yellowjackets’ Wessman Arena home.

The 18-year coach captured victory No. 370 in his team’s 3-2 win over Wisconsin-Eau Claire at home Saturday. The win tied Coghlin with former Bemidji State coach Bob Peters. The NCHA’s Peters Cup is named in honor of the former Beavers coach.

“Coach Peters is a legendary coach in all of college hockey,” Coghlin said Thursday. “He is one of those famous guys and it feels odd for me to be using our names in the same sentence. It just doesn’t seem like it fits.”

Coghlin’s career record at St. Norbert is 370-97-38.

Players of the Week

Dakota Dubetz, Marian: The center was the Sabres’ go-to guy in the team’s two-game sweep over Northland Jan. 14-15. He pumped in three goals and added two assists in the team’s 9-1 victory Saturday, which came on the heels of a two-goal performance in Friday’s 6-4 win. The Chestermore, Alberta, sophomore’s 25 points on nine goals and 16 assists leads the Sabres.

Jordan Van Gilder, Hamline:
The junior forward netted a goal and six assists in the Pipers’ weekend series against Bethel, which resulted in a Hamline win and a tie. The right winger assisted on four goals, including Chris Berenguer’s game-winner in the second period, in the team’s 6-3 victory Friday. In Saturday’s 4-4 draw, the Lino Lake, Minn., product scored the tying goal with 18 seconds left in regulation.

Justin Faryna, UW-Superior: The Calgary, Alberta, sophomore racked up seven points (two goals and five assists) in the Yellowjackets’ two-game sweep over Wisconsin-Stout Jan. 14-15. The right winger slotted home a goal and added three assists in Friday’s 7-2 victory while notching the game-winner in the third period of Saturday’s 8-6 scoring fest. He finished the game with two goals and an assist, which locked Faryna (7-9-16) in a tie with teammate Talon Berlando (7-9-16) for the team scoring lead.