By Dave Tomczak
Local Sports Journal
If the Mona Shores hockey team needed a wake up call Friday, they got one just in time.
After struggling with East Kentwood for two periods, the Sailors scored three third-period goals for a 6-3 win at the 24th Annual Stan Konrad Memorial Tournament.
Playing in the second game at the L.C. Walker arena, Mona Shores (10-0) advanced to today’s 4:30 championship game with Grand Haven. The Bucs advanced with a 2-1 win over Portage Central in the tournaments’ opening game.
The Sailors looked as if this contest would be a rout early, scoring two goals in the first 3 ½ minutes of the opening period.
Gage Veltman put Shores up 1-0 just 37 seconds into the game and Alec Sturr made it 2-0 a couple of minutes later.
After a fortunate bounce allowed East Kentwood’s Austin Adams to find an open net and cut the lead to 2-1 with 3:45 left in the period, the Sailors’ Ben Essenberg scored for a 3-1 lead heading into the second.
But the pressure the Falcons had been applying throughout the first finally got to Shores in the second.
East Kentwood scored seven minutes into the period as Sailors goalie Nate Rabbitt made the initial save, but allowed the rebound to sneak behind him and across the goalline to cut the lead to 3-2.
Mona Shores then had a 5-on-3 power-play advantage, only to see the Falcons kill off the first penalty and score on a shorthanded breakaway to even the game at 3-all.
“(East Kentwood) outworked us in the second period,” Shores coach Pat Rabbitt said. “Actually, they outworked us in the first and outplayed us for two periods.”
Finally, in the third period, Mona Shores took control of the game.
Adam Ulfsax, who finished the game with two goals and two assists, scored for a 4-3 Sailors lead.
The Falcons, who outshot the Sailors 35-31, appeared to score the game-tying goal, but had it waved off as the scorer was called for goaltender interference.
On the ensuing power-play, Jared Karnitz gave Shores a 5-3 lead with just over four minutes left to play in the game.
“We were fortunate there,” Pat Rabbitt said. “We took advantage of an opportunity that we had.”
Ulfsax would add his final goal of the night for the 6-3 win, as Mona Shores moves on to face Grand Haven, a team they have already beaten twice this year, 5-1, 3-0.
“It’s always good to beat East Kentwood,” Ulfsax, a senior forward, said. “They’re a good team and we’re glad we came out on top.”
Nate Rabbitt finished the game with 32 saves for Shores, Veltman and Reed Hrynewich had three assists apiece and Brandon Cottrell added an assist.