Rams goaltender Zac Sherman doing what he does best - stopping shots - against Reeths Puffer on Dec. 14. ~ Photo by Sheila Bach
By Tim Baumgardner
The Rockford Rams Varsity Hockey Club took a short trip West on I-96 last weekend to face two OK Rue Division opponents in Muskegon. They played Reeths-Puffer on Friday, Dec. 14, and Mona Shores on Saturday, Dec. 15. The Ice Rams came away with two more wins, extending their winning streak to nine games.
On Friday, the Rams entered LC Walker Arena ranked No. 7 in the state, looking for the season sweep of Reeths Puffer. The two teams faced each other over the Thanksgiving weekend, with Rockford securing a 6-1 victory in that contest. This game would be closer, but the outcome the same – Rams claimed the game 4-2.
Rockford took an early lead as Kevin Healy, assisted by Cade Baumgardner, pushed the puck past the Puffer netminder just two minutes into the first period. That would be the only goal in the opening session.
Reeths Puffer would tie the game 1-1 midway through the middle frame. Rockford would regain the lead late in the period as Baumgardner scored on the powerplay, and was assisted by Mitch Sehlmeyer and Aidan Hoffman.
Dan Sokol, assisted by Ethan McCormack and Healy, put the Rams up 3-1 early in the third period. Puffer once again answered, making it a one-goal game with 6-minutes to go. Two minutes later, Kyle Switzer, assisted by Healy and Sokol, would give Rockford the insurance goal it needed. Puffer pulled the goalie for the extra skater late in the game, but the Ice Rams fought off the attack to secure the 4-2 win. Rams goalie Zac Sherman was credited with the win.
On Saturday, the Rams traveled to Lakeshore Sports Centre looking for the season sweep of Mona Shores. The first time these teams faced each other, Rockford skated away with an 8-0 mercy win. Once again, this game would be closer, but the outcome the same.
Rockford opened the scoring as Baumgardner, assisted by Healy and Sokol, chipped the puck into the Mona net midway into the first period. The Rams took the 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
The Ice Rams would take a 3-0 lead early in the second period on scores by Sokol (unassisted) and Baumgardner (assisted by Hoffman). Mona would answer with one of their own before Brendan Bach (assisted by Hoffman) made it 4-1 late in the middle frame.
Mona would make things interesting, scoring their second goal of the game early in the third period to make it 4-2. But Rockford answered one minute later as Sehlmeyer netted his first varsity goal in timely fashion, assisted by McCormack and Bach. Mona would tally a late powerplay goal to make it a 5-3 final. Sherman secured the win in net for the Rams.
“I was happy to see our team close out two conference sweeps against the Muskegon schools,” said Rockford head coach CJ Pobur. “To my knowledge, that is something that hasn’t been accomplished in recent history. We could’ve been better, we need to be better, and we will get better moving forward. We learned quickly that teams are taking notice of the Rockford Rams, and they will bring their best to beat us. We need to be sure to bring our best effort into every contest to continue winning, avoid complacency, and positively develop our weaknesses. We have big tests coming up in the final weekend of 2018.”
The Ice Rams (9-1-0 overall, 6-1-0 in league play) close out the 2018 portion of the schedule with two home games. On Friday, Dec. 21, Griff’s Ice House will play host to a clash between two top-10 ranked teams in the state: the No. 7 ranked Rams will host No. 9 ranked Northville at 8 p.m.
On Saturday, Dec. 22, the Rams will battle Traverse City West in a 5 p.m. tilt at Griff’s Ice House. As always, Rockford students are admitted free (with ID) to all home regular season games. Go Rams!
Rockford forwards #11 Kevin Healy and #17 Kyle Switzer on the attack vs. Reeths Puffer on Dec. 14. ~ Photo by Sheila Bach
Cade Baumgardner shoots and scores a powerplay goal vs. Reeths Puffer on Dec. 14. ~ Photo by Sheila Bach
Rams players celebrate goal against Reeths Puffer on Dec. 14. ~ Photo by Sheila Bach
Rock-solid defense - Rockford Rams protecting the goal against Reeths Puffer on Dec. 14. ~ Photo by Sheila Bach
Rockford's CDK line - #6 Cade Baumgardner, #9 Dan Sokol, #11 Kevin Healy, one of the top scoring lines in the state - working together to score a goal against Reeths Puffer on Dec. 14. ~ Photo by Sheila Bach