By Dave Tomczak
Local Sports Journal
MUSKEGON – Grand Haven battled back from a two goal deficit only to have Portage Central net the game winner late in the opening game of the 2014 Stan Konrad Memorial Tournament Friday at the L.C. Walker Arena.
The Mustangs’ 4-3 win over Grand Haven earned the team a spot in today’s championship game against Mona Shores at 4:30 a.m. The Sailors were 5-4 winners over East Kentwood in the final game Friday.
Trailing 3-1 late in the second period, Grand Haven pulled within one goal when Pat Modaff picked up a loose puck in front of an empty net and scored with 2:44 remaining.
Grand Haven pulled even with 9:05 left in the game on a Jake Steggles power play goal.
But the celebration was short lived as Portage Central’s Jared Lutz scored his third goal of the night on a 2-on-1 breakaway with four minutes left. Lutz took a centering pass from Devin Bilek and one-timed a wrist shot over goalie Robert Arterburn’s shoulder.
“The defense gave that one up at the blue line,” Grand Haven coach Dan Gadbois said. “That’s how our year has gone, close games like that. it’s the mistakes that kill us.”
The Mustangs took a 1-0 lead midway through the first period on Bilek;s goal.
The Bucs evened the score two minutes later when Hayden Modaff finished off a 3-on-1 break with a wrist shot from the right circle.
The play and pace of the game changed in the second period as the teams combined for seven penalties. The first power play of the period resulted in Lutz’ first goal of the game and a 2-1 Portage Central lead.
The Mustangs had a golden opportunity to increase their lead with a 5-on-3 power play for 1:50 but were held out of the net by Grand Haven.
But Lutz netted goal number two as soon as the power play ended and Portage Central had a 3-1 lead.
“We’re not a skilled team, we earn everything we get,” Gadbois said. “But I’m proud of the guys. I just ask them to give the best they’ve got and I got that from everyone today.”
Grand Haven will face East Kentwood today at 2:30 in the consolation game at L.C. Walker Arena.