The Bucs were shorthanded with five players unavailable, including their starting goalie. The Rockets’ experience plus Grand Haven’s roster woes and first-game jitters added up to a 19-3 Reeths-Puffer victory.
“Early season struggles,” said Grand Haven head coach Kyle Hitsman. “Reeths-Puffer was 2-1 coming in with a couple of games under their belt.
“Our defense got taxed out. They overplayed in multiple areas and by the end of the first quarter were taxed. Once Reeths-Puffer figured out we were playing with our backup goalie, it kind of became a free-for-all.
“We weren’t maintaining offensive possession, bringing more pressure on the defense. It just was a waterfall.”
The Rockets were firing from the jump, netting four goals in the first five minutes of play.
Grand Haven’s Kyle Bush put the Bucs on the board late in the first quarter, finishing off a nice dose of ball movement around the cage with a shot from the right side. Reeths-Puffer would answer with a crisp transition goal to make it 5-1 at the first break.
Bush would find the net again in the second quarter, this time nailing a screaming shot from distance, assisted by Mitchel Bosgraaf. Reeths-Puffer continued to score at will, however, taking a 10-2 lead into halftime.
It was more of the same in the third, with the Bucs netting one goal to keep spirits up, while the Rockets sped ahead to a 17-3 lead heading into the fourth.
There, Reeths-Puffer’s offense slowed, with just two goals in the period, but Grand Haven couldn’t find the net up against a now-running clock.
“Bush had a nice game,” Hitsman said. “He is a big kid and knows how to use his size to get inside. We were running more of an isolation offense, which is not what we are trying to run. The offense wasn’t going through our plays like they should.
“The kids didn’t give up. They kept working and that is something we can build on. Going forward now we know what we need to work on and we will just look to get better day-by-day.”
Grand Haven will return to action Saturday at home as they host Mona Shores at 12 p.m.