By TIM BAUMGARDNER
The Rockford Rams Varsity Hockey Club went 2-1-0 during Thanksgiving week.
On Wednesday, Nov. 22, the Ice Rams squared off against OK Tier 2 opponent Forest Hills Northern/Eastern. FHNE jumped out to a 3-0 lead with a flurry of goals during a 3-minute stretch late in the opening period. Despite being outshot, Rockford fought back scoring the only goal of the second period as defenseman Cade Baumgardner (assisted by Kyle Switzer) jumped on a loose puck and fired it past the FHNE netminder. FHNE regained their 3-goal lead with an early goal in the third period. Rockford forward Heath Drye (assisted by Ryan Earl and Hunter Moran) scored late in the final session to make it 4-2, but this was as close as the Rams would come. Goaltender Zac Sherman took the loss for the Rams.
On Friday, Nov. 24, Rockford met Kenowa Hills in the opening round of the 2017 Griff’s Thanksgiving Tournament. This game was all Rockford, led by hat tricks from Dan Sokol and Ryan Earl. The Rams jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first period with goals by Earl (unassisted), Kevin Healy (assisted by Baumgardner and Tommy Schwandt), and two goals by Sokol (both assisted by Brendan Bach). The second period was a continuation of the first, with the Rams netting 4 more goals: Sokol (assisted by Healy and Bach), Drye (assisted by Schwandt and Healy) and two goals by Earl (the first assisted by Sokol and Bach, the second assisted by Healy and Drye). The game was called at the end of the second period (per MHSAA mercy rules), with Rockford earning the 8-0 victory. Goalie Justin Stack was credited with the win for the Rams.
On Saturday, Nov. 25, the Rams skated against West Catholic in the 2017 Griff’s Thanksgiving Tournament championship game. For two periods the teams battled before Rockford pulled away with the 9-3 win. Rockford and West Catholic exchanged goals in the first period, with both teams scoring twice. Switzer (assisted by Bach and Sokol) opened the scoring for the Rams; Sokol (assisted by Bach) scored 5 minutes later. West Catholic took a 3-2 lead early in the second period before Rockford answered with two goals: Healy (assisted by Moran and Schwandt) and Earl (assisted Braden Dahlke and Hunter Dakin). The Rams dominated the third period with five unanswered goals: Drye (assisted by Healy and Moran), Dakin (unassisted), Earl (unassisted) and two goals from Sokol (the first assisted by Switzer, the second assisted by Switzer and Elliot VanPelt). Rams netminder Sherman earned the win.
Next up: Rockford (3-1-0 overall, 0-1-0 league) will host OK Tier 2 opponent Lowell/Caledonia on Wednesday, Dec. 6 at Griff’s Ice House. Puck drop is scheduled for 8pm. Two nights later, on Saturday, Dec. 8, the Ice Rams will host West Ottawa at Griff’s. This game is also slated to start at 8pm.
Be sure to follow Rams Hockey online at RockHockey.org or on Facebook and Instagram.