By Justin Haggerty
Local Sports Journal
MUSKEGON – The Reeths-Puffer hockey team has gotten off to a strong start this season, with a 4-2 overall record against some good competition.
But apparently R-P Coach Erik Sikkenga hasn’t been completely satisfied.
“Our pregame message was, complacency is an enemy of ours right now,” Sikkenga said, following his team’s 4-2 victory over East Kentwood Tuesday at Lakeshore Sports Centre. “To be comfortable to grow, we’ve got to be comfortable to make mistakes and be willing to play.”
“But being comfortable doesn’t mean being complacent. Just going out there and playing close games and being just good enough to win, we’ve got to start to get hungry to get over that.”
The Rockets sure seemed hungry from the beginning of Tuesday’s game, taking the first six shots of the contest before the Falcons managed to take a shot of their own.
R-P’s Connor McEvoy cashed in at 10:32 of the first period with a goal on a rebound from Brandon Young. Less than five minutes later Derreck Pleimling made a nifty move and ended up all alone in front of Falcon goalie Jacob Mofield, then snuck a wrist shot past him to make the score 2-0.
The Rockets outshot East Kentwood 12-11 in the first period.
The second period started with a bang when Reeths-Puffer’s Andy DeYoung scpred pm the first shot of the period to give the Rockets a 3-0 cushion.
Jacob Gale got East Kentwood on the board with a goal less than two minutes later, with assists from Michael Barnes and Eero Lammela.
“Our best players put the game away today and finshed it, which is nice,” Sikkenga said.
The third period didn’t start out great for the Rockets, who were called for penalties at 2:53 and 4:17 to give East Kentwood over three minutes of power play time, including 36 seconds with a two-man advantage.
But Rockets goaltender Wil Mierz was up to the task, stopping five shots on the penalty kill to keep his team on top.
“That was big. That’s where big players have to come up,” Sikkenga said. “That was a little nerve racking, but Wil was very good.”
East Kentwood’s Ryan Stapeton pulled his team within one with a goal at 8:45 of the third period.
The Rockets added an empty net goal with ten seconds left on a shot by Brody Vanderlinde from his own blue line.
Reeths-Puffer, now 2-2 in league play, will face off against Manistee at Lakeshore Sports Centre at 10 a.m. Saturday before taking a break until after Christmas.