By Jason Goorman

There was a hometown hero in action at Trinity Health Arena on Saturday.

The Muskegon Risers’ Miguel Flores.

Muskegon’s Miguel Flores gets surrounded by teammates after netting the game-winning goal against visiting Iowa. Photo/Leo Valdez

The Muskegon Big Red grad showed all of his glory that fans love to see, putting on a show that heated up into a dramatic game-winning goal in overtime for an 8-7 win over visiting Iowa.

Flores’ exciting goal, his second tally of the game, came just 18 seconds into overtime.

“I just love the game, I love big moments,” said Flores who wowed the crowd with his intense play all night. “It’s good to show the city what we are all about.”

Winning did not come in any sort of easy way as Flores and Muskegon had to dig their way out of a tough deficit that started in the first quarter.

“We were down by four goals tonight,” said Flores. “For us to show that kind of courage and the discipline we needed to pull this out, it’s just incredible.”

The Risers did start hot on the Iowa net in their home opener, nearly getting goals in the first two minutes of the game.

First it was Flores almost connecting with Aldony Mendez, 30 seconds into the contest. Flores then came close to setting up Kyle Crain almost a minute later.

“An early goal is massive, not only does it get us into the game and relaxes us a little bit, but it also gets the whole crowd into it,” said Muskegon Coach Michael Vollmer who also won his first game as Muskegon’s coach. “We created great chances, but their goal keeper made fantastic saves. I just kept telling these boys to keep at it because guess what, it’s eventually going to go in.”

Muskegon Coach Michael Vollmer. Photo/Leo Valdez

But setting an early tone with a quick lead was not in the cards for Muskegon.  

Instead, Iowa’s Diego Pantuza scored the game’s first goal for a 1-0 lead midway through the first quarter.

The Demon Hawks added on to their lead in the first minute of the second quarter with a scoring strike from Lucas Malaguez. Three minutes later, Thiago Freitas put Iowa up 3-0.

Thankfully for Muskegon, finding the back of the net was not impossible as Cesar Alayo scored on a rebound after a Flores shot was not controlled by Iowa goalie Rainer Hauss.

Iowa responded five minutes later with the first of Ricardo Diegues’ three-goal night, for a 4-1 lead.

Muskegon did not let the three-goal deficit stop its efforts as Mendez rang in a shot that snuck its way past Hauss with three minutes left in the half.

That momentum was snuffed out by Iowa’s Diegues who caught Muskegon goalie Aiden Hanchett off balance with a tough angled shot that put the Demon Hawks up 5-2 at halftime.

The start of the third quarter made the game even more difficult for Risers fans as Iowa took a 6-2 lead off another goal from Diegues.

But then Muskegon started its incredible comeback.

Aldony Mendez controls the ball for Muskegon. Photo/Leo Valdez

“Told them to just stay out there and keep at it because our possessions were good,” said Vollmer. “We had the pressure, we kept the ball and then they were defending and it tired them out.”

First, Crain hammered home a rebound off the shot of Daniel Arellano for a 6-3 deficit. Moses Crawford lit up the crowd 30 second later with a goal of his own, now putting the Risers behind 6-4.

An Iowa penalty early in the fourth quarter, set up Flores’ first goal of the night for a 6-5 hole that no longer looked impossible for Muskegon to dig out of.

With nearly five minutes left to play in regulation, Crain scored his second goal of the game to knot the score, 6-6.

Henry Spees gave Muskegon its first lead of the game with two minutes left to play on a well placed drop pass from Mendez.

Iowa however was not ready to quit. Moving up its goalie for the man-advantage, Maycon Franca capitalized with 20 second left in regulation to send the game into OT.

“We got (Flores) into a more defensive mode which got him into the game more and that connected him with his teammates,” Said Vollmer about the switches he needed Flores to make in the game. “You defend and defend, and he was a little off at first and then he just piled into his shots and obviously has a flair for the dramatic and he absolutely put us on top in the end.”

The two teams finished with an even, 18 shots apiece, with Muskegon goalie Hanchett posting 11 saves in the win.

Michael Schmitt battles along the boards for Muskegon. Photo/Leo Valdez

While Hanchett made some big outstretched saves on the night, he acknowledged Flores and his team’s overall effort.

“He’s (Flores) just our spark plug, he works super hard and makes big plays,” said Hanchett about Flores. “The chemistry (of this team) is very good, we’re a very tight knit group, every day it’s continuing to build and look forward to the rest of the season.”

Muskegon is now 1-3 this season and sits in third place of the MASL2 North Division. The Risers are next set to play back-to-back home games on Jan. 6 and 7.