The Rockford Rams varsity hockey team faced off against archrival and nemesis, the East Kentwood Falcons, on Wednesday, Feb. 24 on their home ice, and skated away with a hard-earned 4-3 victory.
“This was a another true team effort that resulted in a well-deserved win for us. Everyone skated hard, played their positions and never let up. I’m very proud of the boys tonight. They earned it,” said Head Coach Ed Van Porfliet.
The only scoring in the first period was a Falcons breakaway goal at the 1:42 mark, as they ran their cherry picker strategy the entire game and were able to get through on this one.
Period two saw Rockford senior forward Eric Conroy even things up with a nice netter at the 13:17 mark, making it a tie game at 1-1. Assists came from senior defenseman Drake Veitenheimer and senior forward Jake Chaffee. The Rams roared back again, igniting a large and supportive crowd at the 11:19 mark with a beautiful goal from junior defenseman Eric Datema with the assist going to senior forward Cody Cantu.
The Rams continued to pound away in the second when junior forward Ben Glass put one in the Falcons’ net, making it 3-1 Rams with 7:16 seconds left in the period. Assists went to Conroy and Chaffee. The action continued with East Kentwood coming back and capitalizing on the power play advantage, scoring at the 4:14 mark, and cutting the Rams’ lead back to one.
The Ram charge continued in the second as Chaffee found the back of the Falcon net unassisted with 3:26 left to play, again putting the Rams up by two at 4-2 to close the period.
The third period had the Rams’ penalty-killing unit work overtime, as Rockford took three penalties within seven minutes of each other, finally giving up a Falcons power play goal with 5:57 seconds left in the game, making it 4-3 Rams. Unfortunately for East Kentwood, they were hit with a taunting penalty after their score, putting the Rams on the power play. Good, solid, defensive skating combined with some breathtaking saves from junior goalie Taylor Newton was all Rockford needed to seal the victory at Rams 4, Falcons 3.
On their last game of the regular season, the Rams lost to the Grand Rapids Catholic Central Cougars 5-2 on home ice. Although it was a very close game and play was intense and hard from both squads, it was not meant to be for the Rams, who were penalized for several very close ones, giving the Cougars the power play advantage often.
The Rams struck first at the 7:01 mark with a goal from senior forward Caleb Przybylski, making it 1-0 Rams. The assist went to senior forward Veitenheimer. Not 45 seconds later, the Cougars struck back, evening the score at 1-1. The Rams fired back at the 2:48 mark when senior forward Noah Greco, on the penalty kill, put one in the Cougars’ net. He was assisted by senior forward Cantu, making it 2-1 Rams. Unfortunately for Rockford, the Cougars were able to score with :05 seconds left to end the period 1-1. Although being penalized three times in the period, the Rams still managed to keep it a close game.
In a contrast to period one, the second period saw the Cougars feel the penalty heat early on. The Rams had the power play advantage for almost four consecutive minutes, as Catholic Central was put in the box at the 14:34 mark and again at 12:32. However, the Rams’ power play unit just was not able to capitalize on the situation, as the Cougars killed both opportunities. Another penalty on both teams at the 7:32 mark kept the penalty box full and both teams at even strength. Period two ended with another Cougar score with seconds left, putting the Rams down a goal 2-3.
The third period was action-packed as both teams sensed the game was still up for grabs. Again for the Rams, two consecutive penalties at 7:45 and 6:01 gave the Cougars a five-on-three power play advantage the Rams just couldn’t stop. Catholic Central scored at the 5:53 mark increasing their lead to 4-2.
Although the Rams fought back hard and with a valiant effort—even pulling goalie Christian Van Portfliet to get the six-man advantage—it wasn’t meant to be. The Cougars fought off the effort and even scored on a Ram empty net to close out the game, 5-2 Catholic Central.