Tag Archives: varsity hockey team

Rams’ Playoff Run Ends in Regional Hockey Finals

by CHRIS CRUICKSHANK

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Forrest Andrus guards the pipes during playoff action. Photo by CHRIS ROZEMA

They say all good things must come to an end, and so it was for Coach Ed VanPortfliet’s 2008-2009 Rockford varsity hockey team. The Rams bowed out on Saturday night in a 0-4 loss at the hands of the Howell Highlanders. The loss left the Rams’ overall record at 19-5-2-1.

The Highlanders scored the first period’s only goal on a power play three minutes into the contest. The score stayed pegged at 0-1 late into the second period as the teams battled back and forth. Then with 5:25 remaining, the Rams’ wheels started to fall off. By the end of the period, Howell had exploded for three unanswered goals, and the Rams had imploded as they were whistled off for five penalties totaling an astounding 21 minutes in the penalty box.

The third period saw almost continuous action by the teams’ power play and penalty-killing teams, and less than two minutes of five-on-five hockey. Rockford’s only memorable moment of the period came when net-minder Forrest Andrus stopped a Highlander penalty shot.

So, at the end of it all, the scoreboard read 0-4, and the teams were exchanging hockey’s traditional handshakes at center ice. Meanwhile, in the stands, the parents of the 12 Rockford seniors were wrestling with lumps in their throats and tears in their eyes as the curtain was lowered to mark the end of their sons’ high school hockey careers and the end of a very successful season for Rockford hockey.

Rockford had advanced to the regional final by defeating Grand Ledge/Waverly 3-1 on Monday and DeWitt/St. Johns 5-1 on Wednesday. The Grand Ledge game was among the Rams’ best performances of the season. After a scoreless first period, Jake Chaffee scored a goal assisted by Robert Perry and Shea Mills. Then on a power play, Sam Gallup skated from end to end, weaving in and out of defenders, and slid it into the net for a 2-0 lead. Chaffee scored his second tally of the game when he fired in a rebound resulting from a collision between Gallup and the charging Grand Ledge goalie at the top of the circles. Grand Ledge spoiled Andrus’ shutout bid, scoring with only six seconds left in the contest. Even with that blemish, it was a great defensive effort by the entire team.

In Wednesday’s victory over DeWitt, Andy Shira opened the scoring in the first period, firing in an unassisted goal from the point. In the second period, the Rams added to their lead when Chaffee tipped in a shot fired from the point by Dan Cruickshank. In the first minute of the third period, DeWitt scored to cut the lead to 2-1. The Rams answered back with goals by Adam Hoard (assisted by Travis Whitfield and Cruickshank), and two goals by Mills, the first assisted by Noah Greco and Chaffee and the second an unassisted empty-netter to post the final score at 5-1. The win was Andrus’ 14th of the season.

Although the Rams’ playoff run ended sooner than they had hoped, it was a fine season marked by a number of firsts, including a win over arch-rival Kentwood, two wins apiece over league rivals Mona Shores and Grand Rapids Catholic Central, and a win over non-league foe Big Rapids. The Rams would like to thank their many faithful fans, many of whom made the pilgrimage to Brighton to cheer them on. And what a good season it was!

Rams Wrap up Regular Hockey Season in Style

by CHRIS CRUICKSHANK

The Rockford varsity hockey team went on a pre-playoff rampage last week, defeating Muskegon Catholic Central by a score of 5-2 and Grand Rapids Catholic Central by a score of 6-1. With victories in these last two games of the regular season, the Rams are riding a six-game winning streak into this week’s playoffs.

On Wednesday, Feb. 25, the Rams faced off against the Muskegon Catholic Central Crusaders, who entered the game on a nine-game winning streak. Rockford took command of the game early thanks to two first-period goals by co-captain Mason McGillicuddy. Travis Guest assisted on both goals and Tyler Carlson provided an assist on McGillicuddy’s second tally.

In the second period, the Rams found the back of the Crusader’s net three more times on goals by Cody Cantu, Mike Bieke (assisted by Phil Piiralla) and Andy Shira (assisted by co-captain Adam Hoard, and Guest – his third of the game). The Crusaders scored once in each of the second and third periods to post the final score at 5-2. Forrest Andrus split goal-tending duties with Christian VanPortfliet, and was credited with the victory, his 11th of the season.

On Saturday night, Feb. 28, the Rams finished off their league play for the year against the Grand Rapids Catholic Central Cougars. Cantu opened the scoring for the Rams when he fired in a rebound from linemate Bieke’s initial shot. Co-captain Dan Cruickshank notched Rockford’s second goal when he fired in a slap shot from the defensive point. The Cougars took advantage of a Ram penalty to score a power play goal to cut the lead to 2-1 heading into the first intermission.

In the second period, the Rams fine-tuned their precision passing game, resulting in goals by McGillicuddy (assisted by Hoard and Guest) and Hoard (assisted by McGillicuddy and Guest). Then Cantu scored his second goal of the game, assisted by Cruickshank. The goal was one for the highlight reel, as Cruickshank attempted to stuff the puck into the left side of the net, regained his rebound, and cut behind the net while being tripped by a Cougar defender. As he was falling, he scooped the puck in front of the net where the charging Cantu slammed it home, raising the score to 5-1 at the end of two periods.

However, the production line of McGillicuddy, Guest and Hoard wasn’t finished yet as Hoard notched his second goal of the game, assisted by Guest and Carlson to close the scoring. Guest’s assist was his third of the night and marked the second consecutive game that he earned three assists. Andrus earned his 12th win of the campaign as the Rams raised their overall record to 19-4-2-1 (W-L-T-OTL). The Rams’ final league record was 7-3-1-1, which earned them a second-place tie with East Kentwood, behind the league champion Mona Shores Sailors. The disappointment of a second-place tie is lessened by the Rams’ knowledge that they defeated the Sailors in both of their meetings this season.

The Rams pursue the regional championship on Monday, March 2, as they take on Grand Ledge, with the winner taking on the winner of the Lowell/Caledonia-DeWitt game on Wednesday night, March 4. Both the Monday and Wednesday games will be held at Patterson Ice Center. The regional championship game will be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 7 at the Kensington Valley Ice Center, located near Brighton.

Rams Skate Past Traverse City Bay Reps

Sam Gallup challenges an opponent at the blue line. Gallup had two assists in the Rams' victory on Saturday, Jan. 24. Photo by GARY GUESTThe Rockford varsity hockey team took the visiting Traverse City Bay Reps (players from St. Francis, Elk Rapids, Kalkaska, Mancelona and Suttons Bay high schools) to the wood shed on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 24, beating their opponent by a score of 7-2. Jake Chaffee scored a natural hat trick (three successive goals), Shea Mills scored two goals, and Robert Perry had three assists to lead the way for the Rams.

The Rams took a 3-0 lead in the first period on goals by Adam Hoard (assisted by Andy Shira), Mills (assisted by Perry and Sam Gallup) and Chaffee (assisted by Perry and Mills). The Ram defense held their opponent to only five shots in the first stanza.

The Bay Reps cut the lead to 3-1 on a power play goal early in the second period. Then Chaffee completed his hat trick, scoring two additional goals in a five-minute span. A hat was tossed onto the ice to celebrate the occasion, and it was worth both minutes of the bench minor penalty. Assisting on Chaffee’s goals were Gallup (his second), Noah Greco and Dan Cruickshank. Before the end of the period, the Bay Reps scored another goal, as did the Rams’ Tyler Carlson (assisted by Hoard and Shira – his second), to increase the score to 6-2.

In the third period, Mills scored his second goal (assisted by Mike Bieke and Perry) to post the final score at 7-2. The Rams out-shot their opponent 30-21 and net-minder Christian VanPortfliet picked up his sixth win of the season. The win raised the Rams’ overall record to 11-3-1-1.

This week, the Rams continue their quest for the OK Tier I title by taking on Forest Hills Northern/Eastern at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 28, at the Walker Ice Center, and East Grand Rapids at 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 31, at Patterson Ice Arena.