Mona Shores hockey team breaks its postseason curse, beats Reeths-Puffer 6-5

By Justin Haggerty
LocalSportsJournal.com

FRUITPORT TOWNSHIP – It was Nelson Mandela who once said, “Keep your friends close and your rivals even closer.”

When it comes to high school hockey on the lakeshore, no rivalry is more fierce than Reeths-Puffer and Mona Shores.lsj-fb-logo

The two schools have locked horns each of the last three seasons in the MHSAA state tournament. with the Rockets coming out on top each time.

The Sailors finally broke that curse on Thursday at Lakeshore Sports Centre with a hard fought 6-5 victory before a capacity crowd.

Mona Shores built a three-goal lead in the third period, then withstood a Reeths-Puffer comeback. Zach Tilden led the way with a pair of goals.

Mona Shores goalie Anthony Shrum eyes the puck all the way. (Photo/Eric Sturr)

Mona Shores goalie Anthony Shrum eyes the puck all the way. (Photo/Eric Sturr)

The Sailors now advance to the regional final on Saturday at 4:30 at Southside Ice Arena in Byron Center.

“Playing on the varsity team last year, I was in tears with all the seniors,” Mona Shores senior captain Elijah Wilson said. “It hurt them (losing to Reeths-Puffer) probably more than it hurt me. Coming back tonight, we just gave it our all out there.”

Reeths-Puffer opened the scoring at 12:54 of the first period when first year varsity forward Logan Homfeld crashed the Mona Shores crease and found the back of the net, despite contact with Sailor goalie Anthony Shrum.

Mona Shores’ Brennen Winegar tied the game less than three minutes later on a rebound after the Rockets were unable to clear the zone. Tilden and Wilson assisted.

The Sailors struck quickly in the second period.

Sophomore Spencer Anderson skated along the boards on right wing before centering the puck at the top of the crease to Tilden, who one-timed it in to make the score 2-1 just 1:47 into the period.

Mona Shores extended the lead to 3-1 when Tilden notched a power play goal at 3:30, on a rebound of a Winegar shot. Sawyer Jensen earned an assist on the play and the Sailors led 3-1.

Mona Shores’ Elijah Wilson (16) celebrates the team’s 5th goal. (Photo/Eric Sturr)

Mona Shores’ Elijah Wilson (16) celebrates the team’s 5th goal. (Photo/Eric Sturr)

“I’m more of a defensive player,” Tilden said about his two-goal night. “I’m pretty good at back-checking and picking up the (opposing forward) but when the chance is there I just try my best to finish.”

Rocket forward Trevor Fowler scored on a wrap-around at 8:06 of the second period. Homfeld and Cole Charlesworth were credited with assists.

Mona Shores led 3-2 at the second intermission.

The Sailors came out strong in the third period as well, scoring two goals in the first 7:02 to extend the lead to 5-2.

Zack Burke tallied one goal, with assists from Adam Vitek and Brandon Ledyard. Wilson got the other with an assist from Jensen.

But the Rockets fought back, scoring two goals within 2:14 to cut their deficit to 5-4.

Mason Convertini ripped a shot from right wing past Shrum, hitting the crossbar with the puck landing just inside the goal line. Connor McEvoy and Brody Vanderlinde assisted.

Then Vanderlinde streaked down the right wing boards alone and lifted a backhand shot top-shelf past Shrum at 12:54 to give the Rockets new life.

“It’s a fun game to be a part of, I’m proud of our guys,” R-P head coach Eric Sikkenga said. “They worked hard, they battled, they didn’t quit, they didn’t give up, they didn’t get down on each other.”

Reeths-Puffer pulled Mierz from goal with 1:30 to play to get an extra attacker.

Vitek scored the Sailors sixth and ultimately game-winning goal with an empty net shot with 1:03 remaining.

Homfeld scored his second goal of the game for Reeths-Puffer with 33-seconds left, but that was as close as the Rockets got.

“Good win, good hard fought game by both teams,” Sailors head coach Dan Quaine said. “Each team, every player brought it, it’s good to come out on top on that one.”

Mona Shores celebrates the 6-5 pre-regional win around goalie Anthony Shrum. (photo/Eric Sturr)

Mona Shores celebrates the 6-5 pre-regional win around goalie Anthony Shrum. (photo/Eric Sturr)

Reeths Puffer’s Brody Vanderlinde (12) gets by the Mona Shores’ Hunter Meyers (9) and scores on a the backhand. (photo/Eric Sturr)

Reeths Puffer’s Brody Vanderlinde (12) gets by the Mona Shores’ Hunter Meyers (9) and scores on a the backhand. (photo/Eric Sturr)

Mona Shores goalie Anthony Shrum eyes the puck all the way. (Photo/Eric Sturr)

Mona Shores goalie Anthony Shrum eyes the puck all the way. (Photo/Eric Sturr)

Reeths Puffer’s Mason Convertini (10) celebrates a top shelf goal from the point. (Photo/Eric Sturr)

Reeths Puffer’s Mason Convertini (10) celebrates a top shelf goal from the point. (Photo/Eric Sturr)

Mona Shores’ Nick Nawrocki upends Reeths Puffer’s Brody Vanderlinde (12) with a perfect hip check. (photo/Eric Sturr)

Mona Shores’ Nick Nawrocki upends Reeths Puffer’s Brody Vanderlinde (12) with a perfect hip check. (photo/Eric Sturr)

Mona Shores’ Elijah Wilson (16) scores top shelf half way through the 3rd period. (Photo/Eric Sturr)

Mona Shores’ Elijah Wilson (16) scores top shelf half way through the 3rd period. (Photo/Eric Sturr)

Mona Shores’ Zach Tilden (19), and Reeths Puffer’s Riley Trautner (14) tangle in front of the net during a Mona Shores power play. (Photo/Eric Sturr)

Mona Shores’ Zach Tilden (19), and Reeths Puffer’s Riley Trautner (14) tangle in front of the net during a Mona Shores power play. (Photo/Eric Sturr)

Reeths Puffer’s Nate Sullivan (17) and Mona Shores’ Zach Tilden (19) get tangled up as the save is made. (Photo/Eric Sturr)

Reeths Puffer’s Nate Sullivan (17) and Mona Shores’ Zach Tilden (19) get tangled up as the save is made. (Photo/Eric Sturr)

Reeths Puffer’s Mason Convertini (10) skates the puck past Monas Shores’ Spencer Anderson (15). (photo/Eric Sturr)

Reeths Puffer’s Mason Convertini (10) skates the puck past Monas Shores’ Spencer Anderson (15). (photo/Eric Sturr)

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