By Alex Plough
MUSKEGON – After starting the season 3-0, the Reeths-Puffer hockey team was looking to bounce back from a two-game losing streak.
Matt Herniman led the way for the Rockets with two goals and an assist, while Nolan Convertini had three assists.
“It’s a big win in the right direction for us,” said Reeths-Puffer Coach Bill Zalba. “I feel like we played about 30 minutes in that game. I think once we figure out that we need to play 51, it’s going to be a scary team.”
Reeths-Puffer’s Quinn Fowler opened up the scoring less than two minutes into the game, with assists from Convertini and Herniman. A few minutes later, Reeths-Puffer forward Connor Hilliker scored on a pass from Fowler, stretching the lead to 2-0.
Near the end of the first period, Herniman added another Rocket goal with Convertini assisting, giving his team a comfortable 3-0 advantage heading into the first intermission.
The Rockets defense struggled in the second period, with turnovers and fatigue resulting in two GR Christian goals, from Isaiah Clark and Benj Bultema. The Rockets clung to a slim 3-2 lead at the second break.
Herniman sealed the deal for Reeths-Puffer when he scored on a redirect in front of the net at 3:40 of the third period. Convertini and Sam Benner had the assists.
Goaltender Nick Meyering recorded the win for the Rockets, stopping 20 of his 22 shots faced.
Penalties were not a factor in the game, because neither team took advantage. The Rockets were 0-for-2 on the power play and GR Christian was 0 for 3.
After strong performances by Convertini and Herniman, Zalba explained how the two help the team.
“Nolan is just one of those quiet leaders who goes out there and leads by example,” the coach said. “He does all of the little intangible things, like blocking shots and taking hits. He’s the leader of this team.
“Matt Herniman has had a good start to the year, but we needed him to pick it up against one of the top-notch teams like Grand Rapids Christian. I wanted him to take that next jump, and tonight he did. He went out there, had a couple of big goals and did very well tonight. That fourth goal was huge for us.”