This past Saturday, the Rockford Varsity Hockey team had their first home game of the season. The fans packed the stands to build an electric atmosphere and despite being down three key players, the Rams came out ready to battle on of the top teams in West Michigan, Mona Shores Sailors.
The first period would be fairly even with both teams coming out very physical. Half way through the first period, Rockford drew first blood when Senior defensemen, Cam Bathum fired a shot that rebounded off the Mona Shores goaltender that Senior, Austin Cantu buried in the back of the net to give the Rams a one goal lead. The first period ended with the Rams outshooting the Sailors 10 to 7 and the Rams up 1 to 0 on the scoreboard.
The second period was one that was not short on penalties as both teams sent 3 players to the box. With all that open ice, the speed of Mona Shores top line became a factor and Rockford was on their heels most of the period getting outshot 18 to 3. Five minutes into the second period, Mona Shores was able to get one past Senior goaltender, Todd Millar after a flurry of four shots in a row, the last one did find the back of the net. With 4 minutes left in the second, Mona Shores would get the go ahead goal from their top line going up 2 to 1 after two periods of play.
In the third period, the Rams seemed to come out with a new found energy as they found a way to keep the puck in the Sailor’s zone much more consistently. The Rams took advantage of a power play opportunity when Austin Cantu scored his second goal on the night with Cam Bathum getting the assist. For much of the rest of the third period, both teams had scoring chances, but neither team could convert. With 4:30 left in the game, Mona Shores scored a goal on a one timer as a great pass to a wide open forward 4 feet from the Rockford net. With that goal, the Rockford student section got behind the team and ignited them to give it everything they had to try to tie this one up and the Rams on the ice responded very well. This time, with less than a minute left in the game and Rockford having just pulled their goaltender to put on the extra attacker, Senior Stephen Shira drove the puck home to tie the game up with the assist going to Cam Bathum, his third assist on the night. With momentum now on the Rams side, both teams battled to the finish of regulation time sending this game into overtime.
Unfortunately for the Rams, the overtime was short lived as Mona Shore’s number one line came out again and gained possession of the puck down low in the Ram’s zone where a Mona Shores player fired a hard low shot at the Rockford net that was deflected by another Sailor into the Rams top shelf of the net. Twenty seconds into the sudden death overtime period and the game was over. Senior goaltender, Todd Millar was in net stopping 38 of 42 shots. Shots on goal for the game were, Rockford 26, Mona Shores 42. The Rams will face another tough Tier One opponent, Grand Haven, Saturday the 8th at 4PM at Griff’s Ice House.