By Tim Baumgardner
The Rockford Rams Varsity Hockey Club concluded the 2018/19 season with the annual year-end awards banquet. While the team did not accomplish its ultimate goal of a MHSAA Frozen Four appearance, there was still plenty to celebrate.
The Ice Rams ended the season with an overall record of 17-8-2, the most wins since the 2015/16 campaign. Rockford ended conference play with a league record of 8-2-0, securing the OK Rue Conference championship. This was the first conference championship for the Rams since the 2004/05 season. As a team, Rockford tallied 119 goals and allowed 59 goals against in 27 games. The season came to an end with a 2-1 loss in the Region 1 Championship game, this marked the fifth consecutive year that the Ice Rams had advanced to the regional finals.
The 2018/19 edition of the Rockford Rams Varsity Hockey Club consisted of 22 players. First-year players included senior forward Blake Jackson #4, junior defenseman John Spero #5, junior forward Mitch Sehlmeyer #8, sophomore defenseman Dayton Perroud #15, senior defenseman Taylon Raghib #20, junior forward Ryker Christian #21, and senior goaltender Caleb Keely #31. Second-year players included senior goaltender Zac Sherman #1, senior defenseman Alex Jones #2, senior forward Brendan Bach #14, senior forward Kyle Switzer #17, senior forward Braden Dahlke #19, junior forward Tommy Schwandt #22, senior defenseman Eliot VanPelt #25, and senior forward Hunter Dakin #27. The third-year players included senior defenseman Cody Smith #3, senior forward Daniel Sokol #9, senior forward and alternate captain Ethan McCormack #10, senior forward and alternate captain Kevin Healy #11, senior defenseman Michael Bedford #16, and senior defenseman and alternate captain Aidan Hoffman #24. The lone four-year player on the team was senior forward and captain Cade Baumgardner #6. Rockford is coached by third-year head coach CJ Pobur, third-year assistant coach Nick Thimmesch, first-year assistant coach Trevor Shields, and first-year assistant coach Adam Janecyk.
All-State Academic Awards
Several Rockford players were honored for their achievements on the ice and in the classroom. Brendan Bach, Braden Dahlke, Kevin Healy, Tommy Schwandt, Mitch Sehlmeyer, and Kyle Switzer all earned All-State Academic Awards for maintaining a 3.5 GPA or higher. The team as a whole was recognized as an All-State Academic Team for earning a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
The OK Conference recognizes the top performing players in the conference with the All-Conference Award. Rockford was well-represented on the All-Conference Team, with seven players earning recognition—the most ever in school history. Goaltender Zac Sherman, defenseman Michael Bedford, defenseman Aidan Hoffman, forward Cade Baumgardner, forward Daniel Sokol, and forward Kevin Healy each received All-Conference honors, while forward Brendan Bach earned All-Conference honorable mention.
The MHSAA spotlights the top performing players in the state with the All-State Award. This year four Rams players received recognition at the state level, the most since the 2008/09 season when six players were honored. Forward Kevin Healy earned First Team All-State honors. Defenseman Aidan Hoffman and forward Cade Baumgardner both earned Second Team All-State honors. And forward Daniel Sokol earned All-State Honorable Mention.
Each year, the Rockford coaching staff recognizes individual performances in four areas. The Rookie of the Year Award is given to the first-year player who provided the most valuable contribution to the team. This year’s award was earned by sophomore defenseman Dayton Perroud. The Most Improved Player Award is given to the player showing the most development throughout the season. This year’s award was earned by junior forward Ryker Christian. The Hobey Baker Character Award is given to the player demonstrating character, commitment, teamwork, persistence, selflessness, academic excellence and sportsmanship. This year’s Hobey Baker winner was senior forward Braden Dahlke. The Most Valuable Player Award is given to the player who provided the most valuable overall contribution to the team. This year’s MVP Award was earned by two players: senior forward Kevin Healy and senior forward Cade Baumgardner.
Several players got their names in the Rockford Hockey record books.
Goaltender Zac Sherman
Most wins, career: 24 (2017-2019; tied for 2nd in school history)
Most minutes played, career: 1930 (2017-2019; tied for 3rd in school history)
Most wins, season: 13 (2018/19; tied for 3rd in school history)
Forward Kevin Healy
Most points, career: 150 (2016-19; 1st in school history)
Most points, season: 58 (2018/19; 3rd in school history)
Most goals, season: 29 (2018/19; 2nd in school history)
Most assists, season: 29 (2018/19; 3rd in school history)
Forward Daniel Sokol
Most points, season: 49 (2018/19; 6th in school history)
Most goals, season: 21 (2018/19; tied for 8th in school history)
Most assists, season: 28 (2018/19; 5th in school history)
Forward Cade Baumgardner
Most games played, career: 111 (2015-19; 1st in school history)
Most points, career: 74 (2015-19; 8th in school history)
Most points, season: 47 (2018/19; 7th in school history)
Most goals, season: 24 (2018/19; 4th in school history)
Most assists, season: 23 (2018/19; tied for 8th in school history)
Congratulations to all of the Rams players and the coaches on a great season. Best wishes to next year’s squad. As always… go Rams!