Rockford skaters split games at Big Rapids holiday tournament

Eric Datema fights for the puck against a Big Rapids player.	Photo by MICHELE VANDERVELDE

Eric Datema fights for the puck against a Big Rapids player. Photo by MICHELE VANDERVELDE

The Rockford Rams hockey team opened the Big Rapids holiday tournament with an afternoon contest against the Jackson Lumen Christi Titans at Ferris State University ice arena.

The Titans scored first on a screened shot from the point that Rockford senior goalie Christian VanPortfliet never had a chance on. Rockford answered less than three minutes later when junior Thomas Soupal poked in a loose puck off a scramble in front of the Jackson net. The goal was assisted by Erik Datema and junior Zach King.

Mike VanderVelde shoots the puck up the ice while trying to avoid a hit.	Photo by MICHELE VANDERVELDE

Mike VanderVelde shoots the puck up the ice while trying to avoid a hit. Photo by MICHELE VANDERVELDE

The teams battled hard, exchanging chances until King scored on a beautiful backhand shot from a bad angle, giving the Rams the lead. The goal was assisted by Soupal and Datema. The Titans evened it at 2-2 with 36 seconds left in the second period with a power play goal on a tipped shot from the point.

The Rams again took the lead on a goal from Eric Conroy with an assist from Noah Greco. Jackson again evened it up on yet another power play goal midway through the third. The Rams went ahead for good with senior Alex Fox blasting a one-timer off a great pass from Soupal past the Titan goalie. Senior Jake Chaffee added an empty-net goal to put the game away. The win put the Rams into the championship game against the Big Rapids Cardinals, who defeated Wyandotte/Roosevelt in overtime.

Robert Perry breaks down the ice, preventing his opponent from getting the puck.	Photo by MICHELE VANDERVELDE

Robert Perry breaks down the ice, preventing his opponent from getting the puck. Photo by MICHELE VANDERVELDE

The championship game began with Big Rapids scoring late in the first period after both teams fought hard throughout the opening period.

As the second period opened, Big Rapids forward Seth Adams picked up a turnover and scored on a breakaway, giving the Cardinals a 2-0 lead. The Rams kept battling and cut the lead to one with Chaffee banging in a rebound off a shot by Greco just after the Rams had killed off a Big Rapids power play. The lead stayed at one only due to a great save by goalie VanPortfliet with just 25 seconds left in the second period.

 

Geoff Garman makes a pass to his teammate. Photo by MICHELE VANDERVELDE

Geoff Garman makes a pass to his teammate. Photo by MICHELE VANDERVELDE

The Rams fought hard in the third period, but were unable to get one past the Big Rapids goalie. Big Rapids won 2-1. Rockford seniors Eric Conroy and Robert Perry were both recognized with awards for outstanding play for both games.

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