Rockford hockey loses nail biter

Thursday, March 3, the Rockford Rams varsity hockey team traveled to Traverse City to take on the Titans from Traverse City West. The

Senior Erik Datema skates around a Traverse City defenseman to get a shot on net. Photo by MICHELE VANDERVELDE

Rams knew it would be a tough game, playing a very good team in their home arena in the second round of the state championship tournament. Many were concerned that a long bus ride would take its toll on the team, but the Rams showed all of us that this would not be the case.

Led by the seniors knowing that this could be their last game of their high school career, the Rams came out skating a very aggressive style of play. Rockford got the first great scoring chance, when Thomas Soupal got behind the Titan defense on a full-out breakaway, but the Traverse City goaltender came up with a huge save to keep the game knotted at zero.

As the second period began with the score 0-0, the Rams continued to pepper the Titan goalie, and each time they came up empty. This was looking like a game that would come down to the first one to score would get the win.

Traverse City West had their chances in the second as well, but Rockford sophomore goaltender Todd Millar came up with multiple solid saves as well. The game continued through the second period to be a tight battle, with both teams getting scoring chances but neither goaltender breaking down. As the buzzer went off for the end of the second period, the score still stood tied at zero.

In the third period, it appeared that the momentum had begun to swing the Titans’ way. In the final period, the Rams were outshot by a margin of 11-5.

Just three minutes into the third period, Traverse City West put together a flurry of shots on the Rockford goal. The Rockford goaltender was able to get the initial shot as well as the first rebounded shot. But the second shot, bouncing out to a waiting Titan forward, was driven home for the game’s first score.

Senior Mike VanderVelde skates the puck down the ice with senior Alex Schrotenboer at his side. Photo by MICHELE VANDERVELDE

The Rams had fought too hard thus far and were not going to let a one-goal game get them down. They continued to fight through and made every minute count, but a couple of untimely penalties in the third put a damper on the Ram momentum for a game-tying goal. The Rams were able to pull their goalie, putting on the extra attacker, in the final minute to attempt to get the tying goal, but were unable to convert as the final buzzer sounded. The final score was TCW 1 and Rockford 0. Final shots on net for the contest were TCW 26 and Rockford 24.

No one can be disappointed with the effort that the boys put forth in the game. There are just some games where you cannot get the bounce you need to turn the game in your favor. Though this loss marked the end of the high school hockey careers for the Rockford seniors, they can be proud in knowing that they were a great example for those to play after them. The entire Rockford varsity team can be proud of their accomplishments this year, having one of the youngest rosters in the state and fighting through adversities all season long. Rockford fans should be optimistic about what the future brings in the coming seasons.

Senior Thomas Soupal breaks away down the ice for a shot on net. Photo by MICHELE VANDERVELDE

Rockford hockey parents would like to say to the seniors, Zack, Zach, Alex, Erik, Thomas and Mike, “Good luck to all of you, as you move on to college. We are all proud of you and thank you for leading this team both on the ice and off.”


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