Wednesday night, Feb. 23 at Walker Ice Arena, the Rockford varsity hockey team took on the Crusaders from Muskegon Catholic Central in a rematch of an earlier contest, in which both teams had skated to a 4-4 tie. This night was much different. Early in the contest, Rockford got on the board when freshman Zach Schwandt deked past a defender and snuck the puck in the net past the Crusaders’ goaltender just two minutes into the contest. Ten seconds later, Rockford gave up a goal after the initial shot was stopped, and a Crusaders skater was there on the doorstep to drive it home to even the score early at one. The scoring for the Rams continued when Nathan Hill, after receiving a perfect pass from Justin Ullrey in the corner, found the back of the net to again put the Rams ahead. The rest of the period was much calmer, as both teams had scoring chances. But it was at the 1:19 mark in the first when Alex Schrotenboer converted on a rebound to score, with Zach King and Hill getting the assists. The second period continued with the Rams dominating. Only one minute into the period, Ullrey scored on a rebound after Hill’s shot was originally stopped by the Crusaders’ goalie to make the score 4-1 Rams. One of the best goals of the season came next on a Ram power play as a one-touch pass from Erik Datema to Hill to King was one-timed into the net by King. It was a thing of beauty that was great to see, knowing that a play so well run is almost impossible to defend when the opponent is a man down. The end of the second had both teams off to the locker room with the Rams up 6-1. In the third period, the Rams came out looking to light the lamp. At the beginning of the second minute of the period, Hill got loose and faked out the Crusaders defender to score an unassisted goal, putting the Rams up 7-1. Three minutes later, it looked like the Rams were going to make this a shortened game, as Ullrey got loose behind the Muskegon Catholic defense to score on a breakaway with a great […]
March 3 2011
Friday night, Feb. 25, the Rockford varsity hockey team took on the Cougars from Grand Rapids Catholic Central in the final regular season finale for both teams. Catholic Central, the top ranked team in the west side of the state, chose this night as their Senior Night celebration. They have a veteran squad this year, as they are graduating 12 seniors, and have had a great season with only one blemish during conference play this year. So this game was going to be a tremendous test for the Rams as they prepare for the post season. It was apparent that the Rams came out wanting to prove that they have improved dramatically since the last time these two teams played. The Cougars are a very quick team, but Rockford was there at every turn to pressure the puck and frustrate the high-powered Cougar offense. About five minutes into the game, one of the very quick Catholic Central forwards did get behind the defense and was able to get on the scoreboard with a quick shot over goaltender Jake Rekucki’s shoulder into the net. Rockford continued to pound away, getting a couple quality scoring chances in the first, but was unable to light the lamp. At the 6:24 mark, Catholic Central went up 2-0 with another great shot into the Rockford net. Both teams traded scoring chances for the rest of the period and went to their locker rooms with the score, Cougars 2 and Rockford 0. Rockford came out in the second, ratcheting up the pressure on the Catholic Central goaltender, but he continued to turn away each of their shots. The game continued the fast pace with both teams displaying a high level of play. Midway through the period, Catholic Central scored an even-strength goal to go up 3-0. The Cougars shortly came back with another goal less than a minute later to go up 4-0. It would have been easy for the Rams to give up at that point. But proudly, Rockford had nothing to do with giving up, and the last few minutes of the second period were controlled by the Rams. It appeared that they had something to build upon going into the third period. Both teams came out in the […]
There couldn’t have been a more appropriate occasion for the Rams to host Senior Night than on their last OK Red dual meet of the season at Rockford’s home pool on Thursday, Feb. 17. It was a bittersweet ending to a perfect conference dual meet record, as the Rams beat the Grandville Bulldogs 196-116, making them 10-0 for the season. Head Coach Tom Parks had nothing but words of praise for his seven seniors: swimmers, captain Ben Fredrickson, Victor Lima, captain Jared Martella, Tim Newberger, captain Jeff Schmitt, and divers, captain LJ McCauley and Kurt Plaggemars. Parks boasted, “This is the first group of seniors that I have ever coached in which the entire senior class has scored at conference. They are truly a diverse group, but have all worked together and become tremendous leaders with a strong work ethic.” Diving Coach Mark VanDyken agreed, “Our two senior divers have led their younger teammates by example. Kurt never quits until he gets it right, and LJ fulfills his role as captain very well by bringing a positive and fun attitude to diving, which makes all the hard work fun.” It was a night of mixed emotions, as Parks introduced the seniors to the audience one by one, while the younger Rams stood in a line and firmly shook the hands of their senior leaders and said goodbye. For some it was hard to hold back the tears, as they realized that this would be the last time that these Rockford seniors and their younger teammates would swim together on this deck. Parks admitted, “It has been an absolute pleasure to have coached these guys. They will be truly missed.” As for the senior swimmers and divers, they had some words of wisdom about their experience over the years of being on the team. Senior captain Martella, whom Parks doted as a “hard worker,” admitted, “Swimming on the high school team is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and probably will ever do… getting up so early, the grueling workouts. Yet, if I had to do it again, I would still swim. It gives you discipline, and a sense of commitment, and helps you to become a better student.” Newberger, whom was described by […]
The Rams celebrate their decisive victory in the OK Red conference swimming championships with 483.5 points on Saturday, Feb. 26, scoring almost 200 points ahead of second-place West Ottawa, who had 294. This makes the third straight year in a row that Rockford has claimed the OK Red conference title.
The Rockford Bantam House Team, made up of 13- and 14-year-olds, won five straight games at the recent District MAHA Tournament in Chelsea to earn a trip to the state finals in Livonia this month. Game one found the Rams down, 1-3, after two periods to a very good East Grand Rapids team. The Rams stormed back by scoring four unanswered goals in the third period for a 5-3 win. Balanced scoring with five goals by five different players was a key to this victory. Game two was an easier 5-1 win against the Walker Hawks. Rams forward Cole Orlikowski led the Rams with two goals. Game three was a very rough, penalty-ridden game against Big Rapids. The Rams scored one goal in each period. Goal scorers were Jarrett Ullrey, Ian Bach and Jacob Harkema. Big Rapids was hit for 13 penalties equaling 50 minutes. Rockford played great defense on goaltending by Brendan Coolbaugh and remarkably was not hit with a single penalty. Game four against Kentwood was a Rockford 4-1 victory. The Rams were led by Adam Earl and Ullrey with two goals each. The championship final game against Big Rapids again proved to be a blowout with Earl scoring a three-goal hat trick. Additional goals were scored by Jeff Benda, Joey Benda, Ullrey, and Joel Pietila as the Rams humiliated Big Rapids 7-0. The first-place trophy and medals were secured. The Rockford Bantam hockey team’s current record is now 30 wins, five losses, and one tie. The team is coached by Head Coach Jay Benda and assistants Troy Coolbaugh, Jukka Pietila and Jeremy Smart.