By Greg Gielczyk

MUSKEGON — It’s starting to become a budding rivalry between Mona Shores and Byron Center in ice hockey, and so far it’s been the Bulldogs who’ve enjoyed the upper hand.

But, not by much.

Wednesday night the two teams clashed in the MHSAA Division 2 regional final in Muskegon and the Bulldogs again emerged with the win, 4-3 in double overtime.’

“Yes, it’s turning into quite the little rivalry,” said Mona Shores head coach Chris Benedict. :”I’m just so darned proud of my guys. They battled hard, and I thought we played 51 minutes.

“I just wish it could have ended a better way for them. For our guys and the seniors. They deserved a better fate I think, but their goaltender stood on his head.

“We probably had over 50 shots on him. He had a couple huge, huge saves in the second overtime when we had opportunities to end it. He did his job.”

The two have now met three times in the last two years, and all of the games have been one-goal affairs … with the Bulldogs winning the two most important contests in the playoffs.

Mona Shores collected its only win over Byron Center in the stretch back in December, 6-5. But the Sailors would trade that victory for a win Wednesday.

Last year, the Bulldogs rallied from a two-goal deficit to upend the Sailors, 3-2 for the regional title and a berth in the state quarterfinals.

Wednesday night the Bulldogs opened a 2-0 lead after the first period, and then saw the Sailors come back to score two goals in the second period to climb into a 2-2 tie at the second intermission.

Junior forward Jack Reelman scored the first goal for the Sailors about two minutes into the second period on an assist from Jake Nanna, and Nanna tallied the tying goal about three minutes later from Trent Benedict.

Nico Taylor scored early in the third period with Brooks Robinson and Chase Knowlton providing the helpers, and Mona Shores held it over the next 10 minutes.

But, the Bulldogs weren’t about to go away, and put a shot in the back of the net with under two minutes left in regulation to tie it, and the Sailors failed to score which forced overtime.

Keldon Boone was in net for the Sailors, and Benedict had high praise for his goalie afterward.

“He made some unbelievable saves, and he did what we asked him to do, and that was keep us close so we can flight and claw, and see what happens at the end,” added Benedict.

“I feel bad for him. He played a great game, and he definitely deserved a better fate. Our seniors are great. I love those kids. I’ve coached most of them all the way up. It’s sucks that they’re not going to get another shot.

“They are leaving the program better than when they got here. That’s how you build a quality program.”

Mona Shores finished with a 22-5 record.

Check out photos from the action shot by Eric Sturr.

Nico Taylor puts the loose puck by Byron Center Goalie Carson MacKenzie. Photo/Eric Sturr

Landon Taylor crosses the middle of the offensive zone. Photo/Eric Sturr

Jake Nana celebrates his goal that ties the game at 2. Photo/Eric Sturr

Mona Shores’ Jack Reelman scores on the wrap-around shot. Photo/Eric Sturr

Byron Center celebrates going up 2-0 on the Sailors in the first period. Photo/Eric Sturr

Kolin Jackson lets a shot go from the point. Photo/Eric Sturr