By Tim Baumgardner
The Rockford Rams Varsity Hockey Club extended their winning streak to seven games by securing two victories last week. The Ice Rams downed OK Rue opponent Grandville by a score of 4-2 and Toledo (OH) St. Francis by a 6-1 margin.
On Wednesday, Dec. 5, Rockford hosted Grandville at Griff’s Ice House. The game featured two of the top teams in West Michigan: the 2017/18 campaign was Grandville’s best season in school history and Rockford is one of the hottest teams in the state on the young 2018/19 season.
The Rams jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period with goals from Brendan Bach (assisted by Ethan McCormack) and Kevin Healy (unassisted). The Rams appeared to be pulling away as Healy scored early in the second period (assisted by Dan Sokol and John Spero). But Grandville was not about to go away quietly, recording their first tally of the game late in the middle frame to make it 3-1.
Grandville made it a one-goal game by netting their second score of the contest midway through the final session. The Rockford defense held strong for the last 10 minutes of the game, fighting off Grandville’s attempted come-back, and Healy closed out the scoring by netting his hat-trick goal in the waning seconds (assisted by Dayton Perroud). Final score: Rockford 4, Grandville 2.
Netminder Zac Sherman was credited with the win for the Rams.
Two nights later, the Ice Rams hosted Toledo St. Francis at Griff’s. St. Francis finished the 2017/18 season as Ohio state runners-up, losing the OHSAA state championship game in double OT. Rockford entered the contest hyped and ready for the challenge.
The opening session favored the Rams as both teams battled hard. It wasn’t until late in the period before either team would solve the opposing goaltender. It was Rockford that struck first as Spero backhanded the puck into the St. Francis net (assisted by Kyle Switzer).
Rockford scored three more unanswered goals in the second period, taking a commanding 4-0 lead: Bach buried a short-handed goal early in the middle frame (assisted by Cade Baumgardner), followed by two tallies from Healy (the first assisted by Baumgardner, the second unassisted).
McCormack would put the Rams up 5-0 about three minutes into the third period (assisted by Mitch Sehlmeyer). St. Francis would answer midway through the final session, netting their one and only goal of the game. Bach would close out the scoring with about five minutes to go in the contest (assisted by Sehlmeyer and Tommy Schwandt). In the end, it was Rockford 6, St. Francis 1.
Goaltenders Sherman and Caleb Keely combined for the Rockford victory.
Next up: The Ice Rams (7-1-0 overall, 4-1-0 division) look to continue their winning ways with a trip to Muskegon to face two OK Rue Division foes: Reeths Puffer on Friday, Dec. 14 (7pm at LC Walker Arena) and Mona Shores on Saturday, Dec. 15 (3pm at LakeShore Sports Centre). Go Rams!