The Rockford High School varsity hockey team opened the 2010-2011 season against Forest Hills Central Friday night, Nov. 26, at the East Kentwood Tournament. The Rams have a young team with a roster that includes six sophomores and one freshman. Despite the youth, this team promised to play solid hockey in the competitive OK Tier One conference.
The Forest Hills Central (FHC) game got off to a slow start with the score at the end of the first period tied at zero. Early in the second period, the Rams’ Keegan Knight put the puck in the back of the net to take the early lead. Three minutes later, FHC evened the score. The Rams added two more as Mike VanderVelde and Thomas Soupal put the Rams up 3-1 to end the second period.
In the third period, the Rams took control of the game with another goal by Soupal. FHC added one more goal midway through the third period to finalize the game at Rams 5, FHC 2.
Rams goaltending duties were split between two sophomores, Jake Rekucki and Todd Millar, turning away 25 of the 27 shots they faced. The win advanced the Rams into the championship game against the always strong East Kentwood Falcons.
The championship game found the Rams back on their heels, as East Kentwood and their hard-charging offensive attack controlled the early play. The Rams played tough, while solid goaltending kept all East Kentwood’s 18 first-period shots out of the net. The Rams made the most of their opportunities in the first period with Rockford goals by Knight and Zach Vandawater, assisted by Ben Glass, Soupal, and Erik Datema. East Kentwood went to the locker room for the first intermission surprised to be down 2-0.
The second period began with a quick Ram goal by Justin Ullery, assisted by freshman Zach Schwandt and sophomore Nathan Hill. The goal put the Rams up 3-0. The Falcons finally got on the scoreboard with the first of what turned out to be three goals that period.
Two minutes into the third period, East Kentwood scored, making it 4-3. Ram penalties in the third made it difficult for Rockford to overcome the high-powered offense of East Kentwood. The Falcons added two more goals later in the period to finish the game with a 6-3 victory.
Rockford goaltender Millar had a busy night, facing 53 shots and turning away 47 of them.
The Rams’ next game will be against West Catholic at 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 3 at Griff’s Ice House.