By Dave Tomczak
MUSKEGON – Mona Shores’ hockey team generated plenty of offense on Friday, but had little to show for it early on.
The victory gives Mona Shores a 6-2 record in the Fischer Division of the O-K Conference, tying them for first-place with Hudsonville. The Sailors are 15-8 overall, and will face Hudsonville next Friday.
Grand Haven, 7-13-1 overall, fell to 5-3-1 in the division.
Mona Shores took advantage of back-to-back-to-back Grand Haven penalties midway through the first period to rack up 18 shots on goal. But none of them found the mark, and there was no score after one.
“Hats off to (Grand Haven goalie) Aiden Steele,” said Mona Shores Coach Chris Benedict. “He played amazing tonight. I’m glad we don’t have to face him again.”
Staying out of the penalty box was crucial for the Bucs in the second period, and it resulted in a stronger offensive showing.
Grand Haven outshot Shores 10-3 in the period, and took a 1-0 lead on Mathieu VanLangevelde’s power play goal with 7:07 left in the second period.
It didn’t take the Sailors long to respond in the third period. Cayden Mollema found an opening in front of the net, and jumped on a rebound to tie the game at 1-1 at the 4:38 mark.
Just over three minutes later, Conner Winegar gave the Sailors a 2-1 lead when he took advantage of another rebound for a goal.
“We did a good job of limiting their opportunities in front of the net,” said Grand Haven coach Keegan Ferris. “But twice we didn’t win those battles and it cost us.”
Grand Haven had a chance to tie the game with 1:34 left in the game, but a bouncing puck in front of an open Sailors net evaded Evan Yasick’s stick and was covered by Sailor goalie TJ Habetler.
The Bucs pulled Steele for the extra attacker late in the contest, but Mollema knocked the puck loose at the Sailors’ blue line and hustled down ice to score an empty-netter with 1:07 left, giving Mona Shores its final margin of victory.
“It’s a rivalry game, teams are going to go back-and-forth,” Benedict said. “We knew they wouldn’t quit, and we had to just maintain what we were doing and pick it up on the offensive end.”
Mona Shores finished the game with a 29-16 shot advantage. Habetler had 15 saves.
Kolin Jackson had two assists for Mona Shores while Mollema and Nolan Lashed had one.
Steele finished with 26 saves for the Bucs. Cooper Fox and Braden Nielsen had assists.