Rockford Rams skaters end season in Big Rapids

After a tough and injury-plagued regular season, the Rockford Rams varsity hockey team had a great three-game post-season run in district regionals, finally falling to Traverse City West, 3-1, on Saturday afternoon, March 6 at Ferris State University.

Round one, played on Monday, March 1, had the Rams face a very determined Creston City team. The Rams easily got past Creston City 10-0, with the game ending after two periods.

Jon Miller fights for the puck against an East Kentwood player. Photo by MICHELE VANDERVELDE

Round two brought a huge post-season highlight, as the Rams again found themselves facing their archrival, the East Kentwood Falcons, on Wednesday, March 3 at home. Everyone knew this was a big one, especially since the Rams knocked the Falcons down to Tier II next year after beating them in regular season game on February 24, 4-3. In front of a very large and supportive crowd of parents, families, friends and students, the Rams moved on to round three, beating the Falcons in a real thriller, 5-3.

In period one, the Falcons came out skating for revenge as both teams felt each other out. Each team took three total penalties, as it proved to be a back-and-forth battle until senior forward Jake Chaffee scored on the Ram power play at the 1:18 mark, making it 1-0 Rams to end the period.

Jake Chaffee brings the puck into the zone. Photo by MICHELE VANDERVELDE

Period two had the Rams starting on the penalty kill. As both teams continued to be put in the box, the Falcons finally capitalized on the mayhem with a power play score at the 3:46 mark, making it a tie game. However, the Rams roared back and ignited the crowd when senior forward Alex Fox, positioned perfectly at the side of the Falcons’ net, put one in for the Rams at the 2:59 mark, making it 2-1 Rams. Unfortunately, the Falcons struck back and evened the score again less than a minute later, ending the very heated and hectic second period, 2-2.

Alex Fox takes a Traverse City West skater out of the play. Photo by MICHELE VANDERVELDE

Period three was “do or die” and both teams knew it. The losing team was done for the season and it was going to be the last game for their seniors. The Rams scored early at the 13:16 mark when senior defenseman Robert Perry made it 3-2 Rams. After a Falcon penalty barely a minute later, the power play door opened for the Rams. Unfortunately, the Ram unit just couldn’t make it work, as the Falcons actually scored what they thought was a short-handed goal at the 11:42 mark. However, it was waived off by the referees.

Eric Datema skates around a Traverse City West player. Photo by MICHELE VANDERVELDE

Both sides continued to pound hard and fight for every inch of ice until the Rams put another one in at the 10:41 mark, with Perry scoring again. Assists went to senior forward Noah Greco and senior forward Eric Conroy.

What followed was 10 minutes of an outstanding and well-played hockey game from both sides. Although the Rams were again penalized two more times at the 8:46 and 5:31 marks, the Rams’ penalty kill unit stepped up big and did their job successfully. As the Rams smelled a win, the Kentwood crowd lit up with 2:55 left in the game as the Falcons found the back of the Rams’ net, closing the gap to 4-3 with two minutes left to play.

Following, was true heart and determination as the Ram skaters held on and stopped every Falcon advance, even allowing Chaffee an empty netter with :03 seconds left to play, sealing the Falcons’ fate with a 5-3 Ram win, sending the Rams on to round three in Big Rapids.

On Saturday afternoon, March 6, the Rams faced Traverse City West in round three regional action. Unfortunately for the Rams, it was not meant to be, as they fell to the Titans 3-1.

Although the game easily could have went to either team, the Rams’ only score came on a third period power play when Greco found the Titan net at the 14:21 mark, evening the score at 1-1.

However, fate was not on the Rams’ side, as the Titans scored again with 10:40 left to play, going up 2-1 on the Rams. The Ram power play unit did have an opportunity with a Titan penalty at the 5:34 mark. However, it again appeared not to be, as the Rams weren’t able to capitalize. The Titans sealed Ram fate with another score at the 1:27 mark, making it 3-1 Titans and ending the season for the Rockford Rams varsity hockey team 2009-2010. Again, hats off to junior goalie Taylor Newton for outstanding play and keeping the score close.

Senior skaters leaving the ice for the last time as proud Rockford Ram varsity hockey players and deserving recognition for great careers are: Cody Cantu, Jake Chaffee, Eric Conroy, Alex Fox, Geoff Garman, Noah Greco, Jon Miller, Robert Perry, Caleb Przybylski, Christian VanPortfliet and Drake Veitenheimer.

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