Kevin Healy scores a goal in hockey action. ~ Photo by Sheila Bach
The Rockford Rams Varsity Hockey Club opened the 2018/19 season on Friday, Nov. 16 with a short journey down US-131 to Southside Ice Arena in Byron Center. The opponent: OK Rue Division rival GR Catholic Central. The outcome: CC 5, Rams 4.
“Early in the game, we experienced some adversity with injuries and a couple goals against,” said Rockford Head Coach CJ Pobur. “But we showed character as we battled back, all the way until the end of the game. Truly this game could’ve gone either way.”
This game featured two skilled and experienced hockey teams. Catholic Central’s roster consists of 9 seniors; Rockford’s roster is filled with 16 seniors. Both teams have high expectations this season. The large crowd at Southside was noticeably enthusiastic throughout the contest. “It was a fun start to the season,” said Rams Head Coach CJ Pobur. “It was a great environment for a high school hockey game.”
While the Rockford coaches shuffled lines due to the early injuries, Catholic Central netted the first two scores of the game. The coaching adjustments would pay off late in the period for the Rams, as Kevin Healy lit the lamp with just 30 seconds to go in the opening frame (assisted by Aidan Hoffman). Heading into the first intermission, Rockford trailed 2-1.
The Rams looked to carry the momentum into the second period. However, just 15 seconds into the middle frame the game was halted as a big hit by Brendan Bach on a CC defenseman dislodged a sheet of the glass right in front of the Rockford student section. The Southside maintenance crew worked quickly to fix the glass; the game resumed about 15 minutes later. The question that remained was: would the delay hurt or help the Ice Rams?
Cade Baumgardner tucks the goal past the CC goalie. ~ Photo by Sheila Bach
Healy would provide the answer about 90 seconds later netting his second goal of the night (assisted by Dan Sokol), tying the game at 2-2. Just one minute later Cade Baumgardner tucked the puck past the CC goalie (assisted by John Spero), putting the Rams up 3-2 just 2-1/2 minutes into the second period. Catholic Central would tie the game again, scoring their third goal of the night with 12:30 to go in the middle session. The period ended with the game knotted at three apiece.
Early in the third period, the Rams went on the powerplay but it was CC who capitalized, scoring a shorthanded goal to regain the lead at 4-3. Rockford responded a minute later as Baumgardner collected a loose puck in front of the net and banged it home for his second tally of the night (assisted by Bach). The 4-4 tie didn’t last long as CC would score what would be the game winner just 16 seconds later. The Ice Rams would pull the goalie for an extra attacker late in the game, but the boys were unable to net the equalizer.
When the final horn sounded the scoreboard read: Catholic Central 5, Rockford 4. Netminder Zac Sherman took the loss for the Rams, stopping 42 of 47 shots.
“We would’ve loved to come out on the winning side,” said Coach Pobur, “but we will learn and grow from this. The coaches saw good and bad from our group. This experience will help us prepare moving forward. Our Captain, Cade Baumgardner, did a fantastic job leading the way offensively and defensively for us; he played a ton of minutes.”
Next up for Rockford: The Griff’s Holiday Classic which has the Rams facing OK Rue Division foe Reeths Puffer on Friday, Nov. 23 at 6pm and West Catholic or Northview on Saturday, Nov. 24 at 5pm or 7pm. All Holiday Classic games are held at Griff’s Ice House. On Wednesday, Nov. 28, the Ice Rams will host OK Rue Division rival Mona Shores for an 8pm tilt at Griff’s Ice House.
Follow the Ice Rams online at RockHockey.org or on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Go Rams!