Rockford’s inline hockey orange team headed into this championship against an extremely talented Cedar Springs team, who posted only one loss during regular season play. The Rams started the season at 1-5, but have continued to work with intensity all year. They came into this game poised and ready to rise to the challenge of bringing the championship home to Rockford.
After a hard-fought but scoreless first period, the Rams struck early in the second period with a goal from senior Andrew Wenger, assisted by Ty Schwandt. The Red Hawks answered with two quick goals. Rockford battled back with a goal from Steve Jaeger to tie the game up with seven minutes remaining in the second. A Red Hawk popped in a goal with 30 seconds left, putting the Rams down 3-2.
Determination from Rockford players continued, with Wenger scoring again to tie the game in the third. Adam Shiffman then found the back of the net for the Rams to take the lead. With just over a minute remaining, Cedar’s Jordan Brower scored, bringing the score to 4-4 and forcing overtime play. And play they did, for five overtime periods.
These five overtime periods were filled with incredible defensive plays, great shots and huge saves. Cedar Rock Sportsplex hockey director Scott Ebenstein might have said it best when he called this game “a battle for the ages, breaking all previous records for the facility with the five overtimes and nearly two hours of play. The atmosphere in the building was electric, with screams and groans from the crowd for every goal and every save made—easily the loudest it’s ever been in the rink. This game was high school sports at its finest.”
With the battle raging on and only 47 seconds left in the fifth overtime, Rockford’s Schwandt tossed the puck in front of the net, and Cory Ball was in the right place to punch in the winning goal for the Rams.
Coach Trimble had much to say about this Rockford orange team. “I’ve told them all season it doesn’t matter how many wins we get in the regular season. The only one we need to win is the championship game, and they did it! Our senior captain David Schaller has worked on getting this team to believe in themselves all season, and had them ready to go tonight. They all knew this Cedar team would be a formidable opponent, but they never quit. Everyone had a job to do, and they all did it. Their teamwork and desire to win paid off in the form of a championship. I’m so proud of these guys.”