By Dave Tomczak
Local Sports Journal
MUSKEGON – Mona Shores wasted no time getting on the board in the nightcap of the 25th Annual Stan Konrad Memorial Hockey Tournament Friday at the L.C. Walker Arena.
The Sailors scored 17 seconds into the game en route to a 5-4 win over East Kentwood and will face Portage Central Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in the championship game. Portage Central defeated Grand Haven 4-3 in the tournament’s opening game.
“These are the games we have to (win),” Sailors coach Pat Rabbitt said. “We had trouble picking up in our own end, made some mistakes and had some turnovers, but I was pleased with the outcome.”
In a back-and-forth first period, the Sailors jumped out to the 1-0 lead on Ben Essenberg’s goal coming from Colin Rabach and Alec Sturr right off the opening faceoff.
“I took it wide, went straight in and shot it under (goalie Sarah White’s) arm,” Essenberg said. “It was the first breakout of the game and that was good, it got our flow going.”
East Kentwood responded four minutes later as Sherman Mowery spun around from forehand to backhand and beat Shores goalie Tim McClain to even the score at 1-all.
But the combination of Rabach, Sturr and Essenberg struck again just 35 seconds later, with Rabach and Stuff picking up assists on another Essenberg goal.
That lead would last until the Falcons’ Cale Bemke tied the game at 2-all with five minutes left in the opening period. Two minutes later Mona Shores would get its second power play opportunity and make good on it just nine seconds in.
Dalton L’Allier would find Nick Soto and the Sailors would lead 3-2 after the opening period.
Mistakes and missed chances would define East Kentwood’s second period early on. First the Falcons would start the second on the power play and manage zero shots. Then, with the puck deep in their zone, the Falcons failed to clear the puck and Glen Kastelic buried a slapshot from the blue line for a 4-2 Sailors lead.
Another poor clearing attempt from East Kentwood lead to Mona Shores’ Nick Edlund knocking in a pass from Sturr in front of the net just 50 seconds after Kastelic’s goal. The Sailors’ 5-2 lead would get cut to 5-3 with 3:30 left in the second period.
But Shores stilled controlled the game, heading to the third period with a 31-12 shot advantage.
“We’re only eight games into the season but I’m pleased with our overall progress,” Rabbitt said of his team, who improved to 4-4 overall and 2-2 in the OK Tier I. “Kentwood’s always going to battle.”
East Kentwood added a goal with less than a second left in the game for the final tally.
Mona Shores’ McClain finished the game with 14 saves while East Kentwood’s White finished with 31 saves. Sturr and Rabach had three assists each to pace the Sailors.
Mona Shores will look to win its sixth straight Konrad Tournament title Saturday while the Falcons will play Grand Haven in the consolation game at 2:30.