Grand Haven Tribune: Haven hockey turns the tide with win over Mona Shores
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Haven hockey turns the tide with win over Mona Shores

Josh VanDyke • Dec 20, 2018 at 12:30 AM

MUSKEGON — It was an odd feeling for the Grand Haven-Spring Lake co-op hockey team Wednesday night, as they stepped out from the visitor's box of Lakeshore Sports Centre to take on local rival Mona Shores.

The Buccaneers, draped in their customary road navy blue uniforms, also had their usually rowdy cheering section relegated to the stands.

Mona Shores, in an effort to gain some home-ice advantage, wouldn't allow the Coin Crew to partake in their ritual of clashing coins against the glass to create some havoc behind the opposing goaltender.

All those disadvantages weren't enough to swing the outcome of the game, however, as the Buccaneers used an early surge and a late flurry to net a 5-2 win over Mona Shores, snapping a two-game losing streak by the squad.

"It was a little weird walking to the visitors' box tonight," said Grand Haven head coach Keegan Ferris. "It was a completely different vantage point, we were wearing our blue jerseys, but it was a lot of fun. Any time you get two great programs together for a game, it's exciting.

"Their history is unbelievable as a program. They have a great coaching staff and a great roster of kids, so I'm sure they'll get better and better as the season goes along. We consider it a little bit of rivalry because we share a rink and it's a local hockey program that we want to compete against.

"It was tied until the last five minutes of the game, so we couldn't have asked for a better game. I'm just glad we came out on top."

GAMETRACK

The Buccaneers gained possession for most of the opening period, but weren't able to capitalize early on. At the 3:38 mark of the period, Grand Haven junior forward Evan Yasick gathered a rebound from Spring Lake senior Dylan Murak and hammered home the puck to give the Bucs a 1-0 lead after the first period of play.

Grand Haven senior Trevor Kalis would add a second-period goal at the 14:54 mark off an assist from Braden Nielsen to push the Bucs' lead to 2-0.

Mona Shores would shift the momentum back to the home crowd right before the end of the period, however, as Jager Kelly scored off an assist from Scotty Cotner with 1:54 left to cut the Buccaneers' lead to 2-1 after two periods of play.

The Sailors carried that momentum into the third, when Colby Sabin netted a goal off an assist from Austin Grimm and Connor Winegar with 11:12 left in the contest.

The two squads would battle for possession for the next three minutes, until Nielsen scored the game-winning goal off an assist from Spring Lake senior Ethan Pennington at the 8:52 mark to give the Buccaneers the momentum back.

The road team would leave no doubt the rest of the way, as Grand Haven's Cooper Fox ripped a shot past the Sailor goalie off an assist from Spring Lake sophomore Mathieu VanLangevelde to balloon the lead to 4-2 with five minutes left to play.

Grand Haven senior Kyle Eveland would add the icing on the cake with a late goal off an assist from Grand Haven sophomore Gavin Morrow to bring the game to its final tally.

"Our struggle all year has been not putting the puck on net enough," said Ferris. "We have a lot of great passers, a lot of great skaters, but we don't have a lot of great shooters yet. We always tell the guys to not be afraid to shoot the puck. I'm never going to punish you for shooting the puck, so I think we just need to be a little less unselfish in that department.

"You see how well we played in that third period when the guys started being more aggressive with their shots and scoring opportunities, and that's what we are trying to instill in them. We want them to play the whole game like they did during that five minute stretch in the third to close the game out tonight."

The Buccaneers are relying on a young core of defensemen to hold their ground this season, and Wednesday night's result might have been their biggest step toward becoming one of the stronger units on the team.

"We have a young group on the back end of the ice, and that's been a process for us early on," said Ferris. "I think tonight was our best all-around game from our defensemen that we've had all season. They were stepping up, challenging the puck handler, making accurate first passes and it was just a very sharp game from that group.

"When we stay consistent with our effort on the forecheck, we stay in system and we keep our gaps close, it's fun to see what this team is capable of, but we have to do that a little more consistently."

At 4-5 overall, the Buccaneers are still fighting to find that consistency, but a win over Mona Shores could help spur an attitude change in the locker room.

"We're going in the right direction," said Ferris. "I always look at the regular season as 25 practice games, because everyone makes the postseason. We want to keep getting better every time we step out on the ice, so when we are playing for our season, we are playing with confidence.

"I think beating a good team like Mona Shores is something we can grow on and hopefully, show these guy what they are capable of when they play to their potential."

As for the growing potential of the team, two players really stuck out to the coaching staff Wednesday night.

"Gavin Baldwin and Evan Yasick had probably their best games of the year tonight," added Ferris. "Gavin was solid from start to finish on the back end, and we've given Evan more and more roles on the team, and he's really excelled at them.

"All these guys are key players, though. I really believe that we are only as good as our weakest link, so every player on every line has a role and plays an important part on this team."

MAIZE-LETTER DAY

It was a day of celebration of Grand Haven senior Trevor Kalis, as the seasoned veteran celebrated his birthday with a goal in the second period, as well as some good news on his future as a student.

"It was quite the day for Trevor," added Ferris. "Between the goal, it being his birthday and then getting accepted into the University of Michigan, I'm sure it's a day he won't forget any time soon.

"We are very proud of him. We made a big deal about it before the game, because we stress hard work on the ice and in the classroom, and we were happy to see that hard work pay off for him.

"Ethan Pennington was also accepted into the University of Michigan today, too, so we are really proud of these kids. That's a prestigious school that is hard to get into and we have two kids in our room that are making the jump."

UP NEXT

Grand Haven will play Northview (0-8) in a conference clash at Griff's Ice House on Friday at 6 p.m.

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