The Bucs started fast, but stellar play by the Reps’ goaltender maintained a clean sheet. As the game wore on, the combined power of Traverse City St. Francis, Kalkaska, Bear Lake, Elk Rapids and Kingsley High Schools took over.
The Reps scored two goals in the second period to put the Bucs on their heels and three goals in the third to seal the deal. They advance to play Rockford for a regional championship Saturday at Griff’s Ice House at 5 p.m.
After winning their opening-round game 5-1 over Traverse City West on Tuesday, the Bucs came out firing against the 21-5 Reps, winning the opening faceoff and taking the Bucs down for an immediate shot on the cage.
Trevor Kalis managed two sure-fire shots in the opening minutes, stopped by spectacular goalie play by the Reps.
An early hit on noted Grand Haven scorer Cooper Fox took the junior out of the game, heavily impacting the Bucs’ scoring prowess and power-play line. The change to the man-up contributed to three empty power plays for the Bucs in the first period.
Despite the close calls on offense, the Grand Haven defense held strong through the first, killing a Bay City power play near the end of the period to bring a clean sheet into the first intermission.
The second period began like the first, as Kalis and the Bucs forced the Reps’ tender to make a save on the opening possession. Grand Haven goalie Payton Boyle returned the favor on the ensuing possession with a stellar save.
With 15:09 left in the second period, Bay City took the lead. A distance shot ricocheted off Boyle’s stick, flying high up into the air and over his head, eventually dropping untouched over his back for a goal.
With their half of the scoreboard lit, the Reps turned their attention to defense, killing Grand Haven’s fourth power play of the game to hold their lead.
With 4:05 left in the second, the Reps struck again. Minutes later, with 40 seconds to play, they netted their third goal to take a commanding lead heading into the final period.
The third began with all the momentum swinging for Bay City, as they sent two quick shots Boyle’s way. Both were turned away, but the effect was felt.
With their backs against the wall, Grand Haven sent two to the penalty box, one for slashing and one for tripping, to give the Reps a 5-on-3 opportunity. They would capitalize quickly to take a 4-0 lead with 12 minutes left to play.
Another power play goal would come for the Reps with eight minutes to play, all but eliminating the Bucs’ chance to come back.
They would end their season on a high note, however, as Kyle Eveland found the back of the net with 2:24 left to play to avoid the shutout.
The Bucs finish the year at 13-12 overall. They will graduate six seniors from their regional-semifinal team in Christian Forbes, Kyle Eveland, Ethan Pennington, Dylan Murak, Jax Plumert and Trevor Kalis.