Always a tough opponent, the Rams had to score early and often on the Sailors, and they did just that in the first period. Cantu put the Rams on the board first, scoring at the 13:19 mark with a nice setup assist from junior defenseman Mike VanderVelde, who also had a great night for the Rams, bringing his trademark rock solid defensive game. Less than three minutes later, Cantu found the net again at the 10:30 mark, giving the Rams a two-goal advantage. Assisting was senior defenseman Drake Veitenheimer. Although the Sailors cut the lead to one with a goal at the 9:16 mark, the Rams got the two-goal advantage back when Greco found the back of the Sailor net with 4:53 seconds left in the first to end the period 3-1 Rams. The assists went to junior forward Eric Datema and Cantu. Period two saw the Rams keep the pressure on and not let up. The Rams struck first to widen the lead on another Greco goal at the 13:45 mark, again assisted by Cantu, making it 4-1 Rams. The Sailors did manage a score with 6:05 left in the period. However, great goaltending by Christian Van Portfliet and constant pressure by all the Ram lines kept the game in check to end the second period at 4-2, Rams. The third period saw penalties on both teams, allowing Mona Shores to score on the power play at the 8:05 mark. However, Ram senior forward Jake Chaffee answered right back with a nice goal at the 6:05 mark, maintaining the Rams’ two-point advantage at 5-3. Senior forward Eric Conroy made the assist for Chaffee. From there the Rams kept up the pressure, skated hard and played smart hockey for the remainder of the game, even forcing the Sailors to commit two more penalties. This was enough to lock in a well-deserved Ram victory. The Rams’ next game is against the Grandville Bulldogs on Thursday, Feb. 4 at Southside Ice Arena. Game time is 7:00 p.m.
The Rockford Rams hockey team opened the Big Rapids holiday tournament with an afternoon contest against the Jackson Lumen Christi Titans at Ferris State University ice arena. The Titans scored first on a screened shot from the point that Rockford senior goalie Christian VanPortfliet never had a chance on. Rockford answered less than three minutes later when junior Thomas Soupal poked in a loose puck off a scramble in front of the Jackson net. The goal was assisted by Erik Datema and junior Zach King. The teams battled hard, exchanging chances until King scored on a beautiful backhand shot from a bad angle, giving the Rams the lead. The goal was assisted by Soupal and Datema. The Titans evened it at 2-2 with 36 seconds left in the second period with a power play goal on a tipped shot from the point. The Rams again took the lead on a goal from Eric Conroy with an assist from Noah Greco. Jackson again evened it up on yet another power play goal midway through the third. The Rams went ahead for good with senior Alex Fox blasting a one-timer off a great pass from Soupal past the Titan goalie. Senior Jake Chaffee added an empty-net goal to put the game away. The win put the Rams into the championship game against the Big Rapids Cardinals, who defeated Wyandotte/Roosevelt in overtime. The championship game began with Big Rapids scoring late in the first period after both teams fought hard throughout the opening period. As the second period opened, Big Rapids forward Seth Adams picked up a turnover and scored on a breakaway, giving the Cardinals a 2-0 lead. The Rams kept battling and cut the lead to one with Chaffee banging in a rebound off a shot by Greco just after the Rams had killed off a Big Rapids power play. The lead stayed at one only due to a great save by goalie VanPortfliet with just 25 seconds left in the second period. The Rams fought hard in the third period, but were unable to get one past the Big Rapids goalie. Big Rapids won 2-1. Rockford seniors Eric Conroy and Robert Perry were both recognized with awards for outstanding play for both games.