Cedar Springs students Bradley Barnard, Will Fisher and Alan Kolenda part of an extraordinary winning season with Rams Hockey JV Team
The Rockford Rams JV hockey team closed the final chapter of a great season this weekend by winning the West Michigan JV Hockey League Tier 1 Year End Tournament held at the Lakeshore Sports Centre in Muskegon.
The Rams entered the year-end tournament as the rivaled favorite since claiming the regular season title with an impressive 15 win, 1 loss, and 1 tie record. These young men never took their success for granted and knew it would take everything they had to claim their one remaining goal of this storybook season.
Thursday, March 7, was the Rams first of the 4-game round robin tournament facing off against the Buccaneers of Grand Haven. Throughout the season, Rockford faced the Bucs three times with the Rams winning all contests by multiple goals in each. By the 3rd period of this game, the Rams took a three goal lead and things were looking like this fourth meeting would follow suit. Grand Haven was determined to dig out of their hole and that’s just what they did. The Bucs scored twice to bring it within one. With 43 seconds remaining to play, Grand Haven took advantage of a Rams penalty and scored to tie the game at 3. The game ended 3-3 and Rockford knew they had to win their next three to get to the championship final.
On Friday, the Rams matched up with the GRAHA JV Griffins. The Rams had not lost to the Griffins at all this season and were certain to continue that trend. Three 15-minute periods of Rockford’s offensive thrashing was more than GRAHA could manage as the Rams started the scoring and never looked back. After the smoke cleared, Rockford’s goal scoring production doubled the efforts of the Griffins with the Rams winning by a score of 8-4.
A double header on Saturday put two teams in Rockford’s path that had every intention to slow them down. The last time the Rams faced Muskegon Mona Shores, a combined 26 penalties were called in the Rockford win. Tournament hockey is always different and the Rams were prepared for this one. The Rams dominated the play and held on to win 3-2, edging them closer to securing a spot in the finals. The Saturday Night game was much anticipated as the Rams would face the team that could take credit for Rockford’s only league loss, the Grand Valley Stars. The Rams entered this game with a 2-3-1 record against the Stars. Rockford jumped on Grand Valley early in the game and started the scoring. After one period, Rockford’s offensive fury ended with a 3-0 lead and momentum was on their side. The next two periods continued to be productive for the Rams as they doubled their lead until late in the game. With just over a minute remaining in the game, the Stars found a way to find the Rockford netting. Too little, too late as Rockford dominated with a 6-1 win and locked their spot in the final game.
Enter Championship Sunday Night. Earlier in the day, Grand Valley edged Grand Haven to get the berth to the final game. The Rams knew their opponent would not be the same Stars they beat up the prior night. Once the puck dropped, the battle began. Grand Valley would strike first, taking a 1-0 lead. Rockford would answer twice to tie it up and take the lead for the first time of the game. The Rams would be the next to score and increase the lead to 3-1. The Stars were not ready to give up and scored twice to tie the game at 3. The 3rd period went scoreless and the game was gridlocked. The game moved to a five-minute overtime that was dominated offensively by the Rams. The Grand Valley goaltender was not about to let the game end in those five minutes. Time expired with neither team scoring, forcing a five round shootout. The coach of each team selected 5 players to go one on one versus the opposing goalie. In the best of 5 shooters for each team, both the Rams and Stars matched up with 2 goals each. This brought the sudden death shootout. First to score with the other team to miss would be claimed as champion. Rockford’s first shooter made no mistake and buried the puck in the back of the net with a nifty move that left the Stars goaltender sprawled on the ice. The Stars would attempt to answer with a quick shot that beat the Rams goaltender only to be obstructed by the cross bar and off behind the net. Game Over! Rams win! Rams Win!
The Rams ended their season with a record of 42 wins, 8 losses, and 4 ties. Overall, Rockford outscored their opponents with 251 goals for and 98 goals against. In all, the Rams claimed three tournaments championships and the WMJVHL league championship. The team’s adopted motto all year was, “Play like a Champion Today!” and that they did. What an amazing accomplishment for RAMS Hockey and this group of young men.
Open Tryouts for the 2013-14 RAMS JV team will be held on Tuesday and Thursday, April 23rd and 25th from 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm. An additional tryout date of Friday, April 26th (7-8 pm) will be held if necessary. Please visit www.ramshockey.org to sign up for try-outs and find more information on all levels of programs that Rams Hockey offers, from Learn-to-Skate to travel hockey and everything in-between.