By Tim Baumgardner
The Rockford Rams Varsity Hockey Club opened the 2019 portion of the season with a couple road games on college campuses. On Saturday, Jan. 5, Rockford traveled to East Lansing to battle Lake Orion at MSU’s Munn Ice Arena and on Saturday, Jan. 12, the Ice Rams traveled to Big Rapids to face White Lake Lakeland at Ferris State’s Ewigleben Sports Complex.
On Jan. 5, the Rams came off a two-week holiday break with a trip east to Michigan State University to take on Lake Orion. Despite outshooting the opponent 40 to 29, the Rams ended up taking a 3-2 loss. Kevin Healy (assisted by Hunter Dakin and Zac Sherman) opened the scoring in the first period. Lake Orion answered. The score was tied at 1-1 at the end of the first period. Neither team scored in the middle frame. Lake Orion netted two goals early in the third period before Kyle Switzer (assisted by Tommy Schwandt) made it 3-2. Rockford would pull the goalie late in the game for the extra attacker but was unable to tally the equalizer. Goaltender Zac Sherman took the loss for the Rams.
On Jan. 12, Rockford traveled north to Ferris State University to duel the #10 ranked team in Division 2, White Lake Lakeland. For two-and-a-half periods, it was a back and forth contest between two skilled teams. Rockford scored early in the first period on a tally by Cade Baumgardner (assisted by Dan Sokol and Healy). The Rams took the 1-0 lead into the first intermission. Lakeland tied the game 1-1 early in the second period. Rockford took a 3-1 advantage on goals from Healy (assisted by Cody Smith) and Sokol (assisted by Baumgardner and Kyle Switzer). Lakeland scored late in the second period to cut the Rams lead to 3-2. Early in the third period, Lakeland would tie the game 3-3. Rockford regained the lead at the halfway point of the final stanza on a goal by Baumgardner (assisted by Healy and Sokol). Two-and-a-half minutes later Baumgardner netted his hat trick goal (assisted by Switzer and Aidan Hoffman) to put the Rams up 5-3. Ethan McCormack (unassisted) would put the nail in the coffin with the empty-net goal with 15-seconds remaining. As the final horn sounded, the scoreboard read: Ice Rams 6, White Lake Lakeland 3. Goaltender Caleb Keely recorded the victory for Rockford.
The Rams find themselves ranked #10 in Division 1 statewide with an overall record of 11-3-0 (6-1-0 in OK Rue Division league play). Up next for the Ice Rams are a pair of contests against ranked opponents: on Friday, Jan. 18, Rockford will face the #9 ranked team in Division 3, Forest Hills Central, and on Saturday, Jan. 19, the Ice Rams will take on the #12 ranked team in Division 3, East Grand Rapids. Both games will be played at Patterson Ice Center. Both games are slated to start at 8pm.
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