By Justin Haggerty
Local Sports Journal

MUSKEGON – When traditional hockey rivals Mona Shores and Reeths-Puffer square off, emotions are bound to run high.

And when there are emotions in hockey, penalties usually follow.

Unfortunately for the Rockets, most of the penalties came their way. That allowed the Sailors to score two power play goals and escape with a 3-2 victory in front of a big crowd Wednesday at Lakeshore Sports Centre.

MS goalie Tim McClain (29) turns away a shot from RP Derek Mines (19).

Mona Shores goalie Tim McClain (29) turns away a shot from R-P’s Derek Mines (19). Photo/Eric Sturr

“It was a tough fought win,” said first year Mona Shores coach Dan Quaine, whose team improved to 2-0 on the young season. “They pushed us to the max, it was a good game both ways.”

The game was physical from the outset, featuring big hits from both teams. It came to a head at the 7:30 mark of the first period when Reeths-Puffer junior forward Connor McEvoy took a roughing penalty.

Mona Shores took advantage with a power play goal at the 8:58 mark, when Nathan O’Neil and Dalton L’Allier set up Nick Edlund for a slap shot from just inside the blue line that gave the Sailors a 1-0 lead.

Each team had to kill off penalties before the period came to a close.

The Rockets started the second period off with a bang, getting goals from McEvoy and Kevin McCrary in the first three minutes to take a 2-1 lead.

RP Derreck Pleimling (5) battles MS Dalton L'Allier (5) for puck possession.

R-P’s Derreck Pleimling (5) battles Mona Shores’ Dalton L’Allier (5) for puck possession. Photo/Eric Sturr

After that Mona Shores sophomore goalie Tim McClain stopped everything coming his way, including a breakaway by R-P‘s Brody Vanderlinde and a great move by Derreck Pleimling that could have put the Rockets up by two.

“We had a great pass and put a great move on the goalie and the puck rolls off Pleimling’s stick,” said Reeths-Puffer coach Eric Sikkenga, whose team dropped to 1-2. “Everybody on our bench thought it was in, but it didn’t work out that way.”

Mona Shores evened the score at 3:23 of the third period when Travis McCloud knocked the puck out of mid air past R-P goalie Wil Mierz.

The Rockets were stung with another penalty, this time for hooking, at the 6:25 mark of the third period. That allowed Mona Shores’ Trevor Adams to score the game winning goal with assists from Nick Nawrocki and Sam Curran.

“The difference in the game was… their discipline was outstanding,” Sikkenga said. “I mean, we take seven penalties, they take two.

“We killed 12 minutes of power play time off the board, they only had to kill two. That hurts, that keeps our shot count down and keeps our offense from getting to gel and go.”

Mierz was pulled for an extra attacker near the end of the contest and the Rockets sustained pressure on the Mona Shores goal, but McClain was up to the task, keeping Reeths-Puffer from scoring. “Good game, good win,” Quaine said. “Good come from behind win.”