Rams hockey splits pair at Walker Classic

Thomas Soupal gets the puck in scoring distance for Rockford.	Photo by MICHELE VANDERVELDE

Thomas Soupal gets the puck in scoring distance for Rockford. Photo by MICHELE VANDERVELDE

Thomas Soupal checks

Thomas Soupal checks Kenowa Hills' player to take him out of the play. Photo by MICHELE VANDERVELDE

The Rams varsity hockey team split a pair of games last weekend, Jan. 8-9, at the annual Walker Classic. Although both were hard-fought games against very formidable opponents, the Rams lost their first game Friday night, Jan. 8, to the always tough and top-ranked Grandville Bulldogs 5-2.

The first seven minutes of play started out well for the Rams, as they actually dominated play and puck control, keeping the game in the Bulldogs’ zone for what appeared to be a good match-up early on. However, the Bulldogs’ strong offensive fire power opened up at the nine-minute mark with a quick score to make it 0-1, Bulldogs. A Ram holding penalty with three minutes left in the period found the Rams down a player and on the penalty kill, allowing Grandville to score again at the 2:31 mark.

Geoff Garman takes a shot on goal for the Rams.	Photo by MICHELE VANDERVELDE

Geoff Garman takes a shot on goal for the Rams. Photo by MICHELE VANDERVELDE

Momentum was all Bulldogs for the remainder of the period as they got another one past Ram goalie Christian Van Portfliet 35 seconds later to end the period up on the Rams, 3-0.

Period two had the Rams sharper, as senior forward Noah Greco found the back of the Bulldogs’ net at 8:19 into the period on a well-executed breakout pass play with senior forward Cody Cantu and senior defenseman Geoff Garman on the assist, finally putting the Rams on the scoreboard at 1-3. Unfortunately Grandville came right back two minutes later with another goal and maintained their three-point lead the remainder of the period.

Rockford’s Robert Perry drives to the goal.	Photo by MICHELE VANDERVELDE

Rockford’s Robert Perry drives to the goal. Photo by MICHELE VANDERVELDE

The third period saw good hard action from both teams with no scoring until the Bulldogs managed another score with 7:06 remaining, adding to their already strong lead at 5-1, Grandville. The Rams continued the hard fight the remainder of the game and fortunately managed another point as sophomore forward Ben Glass scored with 19 seconds left in the contest with assists from senior forward Cantu and junior forward Thomas Soupal, closing out the contest at Grandville 5, Rockford 2.

Saturday, Jan. 9, had the Rams in the Walker Classic consolation game against the Kenowa Hills Knights, resulting in a well-deserved 7-4 Ram victory.

The Rams came out fast-paced and hard-hitting in a game that belonged to junior forward Eric Datema, as he scored the hat trick for the Rams with 6:17 still left to play in the first period. Datema’s first score came 38 seconds into the contest with a helpful assist from junior defenseman Mike VanderVelde. Datema found the net again at the 7:48 mark with help from junior forward Soupal, putting the Rams up by two. Datema capped off his hat trick with another goal at the 6:17 mark with the assist belonging to senior forward Jake Chaffee.

The Rams kept the pressure on throughout the first, as senior forward Greco scored with 3:21 remaining, assisted by Datema and Chaffee. Period one was all Rams as it ended 4-0, Rams.

The second period changed drastically for the Rams as Kenowa Hills dominated, scoring three times on the Rams, making it a 4-3 game at the 2:06 mark. The period, marked by extensive penalty calling against both teams, ended with senior defenseman Robert Perry scoring another for the Rams with 59 seconds left to play, making it 5-3, Rams.

Period three had both teams coming out to play hard-fought hockey. Rockford added to their lead with 8:38 left in the period when senior defenseman Perry, on the power play, scored with an unassisted slapshot from the blue line, making it 6-3, Rams. Twenty seconds later, junior forward Glass found the back of the Knight net for a goal at the 8:19 mark with the assist from junior forward Jon Miller.

The period continued on with Kenowa Hills managing one more score with 2:10 left to play, ending the game with a well-deserved 7-4 Rockford win.

Perry was named to the All Tournament team for his outstanding performance in both games.

The Rams’ next contest is a conference game Wednesday night, Jan. 13, against the Mona Shores Sailors. Game time is 7:00 p.m. at Walker Ice & Fitness Center.

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