The Rockford High School varsity hockey team hit the ice Saturday, Dec. 3 to take on the Pioneers from East Grand Rapids (EGR) in an OK conference Tier One showdown. Both teams have high expectations for this season and both teams have played close games, with the Rams coming into this one 2-2 and the Pioneers with a record of 4-0.
The game started out with both teams getting a number of scoring chances, but neither team was able to put a goal on the board until Rockford senior Ben Glass was able to slide one past the East Grand Rapids goaltender to break the tie with 3:22 left on the clock in the first. Glass’ goal was assisted by senior Justin Ullrey and junior Cam Bathum.
It looked like the Rams were going to be going into the locker room with a one-goal lead when freshman Conner Broderick got the puck and put a perfect pass on the tape of a hard-charging Ullrey. Ullrey was able to fire the shot just over the goaltender’s right shoulder to give the Rams a two-goal lead with only four seconds left in the period.
Both teams came out working hard after intermission, but it was EGR’s turn in the second to get back in the game. Three-and-a-half minutes into the second, the Pioneers were able to get on the board with a goal that seemed to put a little more life in the legs of EGR.
Halfway through the second period, Rockford was called for two penalties at once, which put them down two men on a two-minute five-on-three. The Rams were able to hold them off for most of the two-minute penalty kill, but with 34 seconds left on the kill, EGR tied the game at 2-2.
The Rams had to kill off two more penalties in the period. They were glad to see the period end, so as to be able to regroup for the third.
Finally, in the third period, EGR was called for their first penalty of the game and the Rams were on the power play.
Unable to find the back of the net, the Rams were given another opportunity with EGR being called for tripping with about 50 seconds left on the first penalty, giving the Rams a five-on-three of their own that they needed to capitalize on.
Despite a couple of opportunities, Rockford was unable to get the go ahead goal and, as the clock wound down, this game was going to overtime.
For Rockford, this would be their second overtime game of the young season. For EGR, this would be their third.
Both teams had a couple chances to end the game in overtime, but four minutes into the overtime period it was a pile up in front of the net where Ben Glass got a stick on the puck to drive it home for the game winner. Junior Austin Cantu and senior Keegan Knight got the assists, with hard work in front of the net paying dividends that gave the Rams a big win in Tier One play.
Junior goaltender Todd Millar turned away 19 of 21 shots he faced to get the win.
The Rams’ next contest will be at Georgetown Ice Arena on Saturday, Dec. 10 at 3 p.m. against the Grandville Bulldogs. This should be a great game, as last year these two teams split their two contests and bot