Two members of the Hope hockey team were key contributors to the success of the D3 Select Team of the American Collegiate Hockey Association during its recent European tour which concluded Thursday (Jan. 6). Chris Kunnen of Des Moines, Iowa and Brett Kopinski of Mishawaka, Ind. were were members of the team and their coach, Chris Van Timmeren, was the Select team's head coach.
The team played four "friendly games" against teams in Switzerland and Germany. The team lost their opener, but won the last three. Kunnen and Kopinski played key roles in all three wins.
The Selects were delayed by three days in their departure for Europe because of the paralyzing East Coast snowstorm and had no time to overcome jet lag before playing their first game.
The Selects dropped their first game to Herisau, Switzerland 6-4. The team got behind by three goals early to a fast and physical Swiss team. Kopinski and Chris Kunnen were each credited with an assist on one of the Select's goals.
Playing outside in Munich, Germany, the Selects prevailed over host Silz Bullz, 17-2. Kunnen had two goals and Brett Kopinski had an assist. This was the first outdoor game for the Selects with the rink located in a small town surrounded by mountains. The views were amazing, as was the support of the local town. There were a couple hundred local fans that turned up at the rink in -2 degree C weather to watch the game. The rink featured no glass and just fencing behind the nets.
The Selects followed with a 4-3 win over ERC Sonthofen near Germany's Bavarian Alps. The rink was covered but was open to the outside which made for a cold game (approx. -10 C). The game was very close with hard hits and numerous penalties. The game was 3-3 going into the third period. Neither Kunnen or Kopinski had a goal or assist but both played very well, according to coach Van Timmeren.
In the team's final game, a 12-0 decision over ERSC Ottobrunn, Germany and again played outdoors, the Hope players had the opportunity to assist on their teammate's goal. Kopinski had two goals in the game and Kunnen was credited with two assists.
Hockey is a nationally competitive club sport at Hope College. A year ago the team finished second in the nation in the American Collegiate Hockey Association tournament. This year's team has a 15-2 record heading into the holiday break. Hope and the Michigan Collegiate Hockey Conference will be hosting the national tournament at The Edge in Holland in mid-March.