BIG RAPIDS – The Reeths-Puffer hockey team is heading to the Final Four.

Jaxon Stone takes the puck along the boards for Reeths-Puffer. Photo/Joe Lane

The Rockets playoff run is now deep after they topped Forest Hills Northern-Eastern 7-3 in Saturday’s Division 1 quarterfinal at Ferris State University.

Falling behind twice in the first period, Reeths-Puffer did not let the early challenges deter its hopes to keep its playoff dreams alive. The Rockets used five straight goals to blow past the Bird Dogs.

“We never doubted, but Final Four is surreal,” said Reeths-Puffer Coach Dustin Langlois. “We’ve been in that position a couple times, sometimes we don’t get the bounce we want, but it’s a position we have been in before and we just stuck to the process tonight.”

Hayden Taylor brought Reeths-Puffer’s first response when he tied things up 1-1 late in the first period with a goal on assists from Connor Anderson and Ricky Wiggins.

The Rockets allowed another FHNE goal, this time a power-play goal to end the first period.

The tight first period was what Reeths-Puffer needed to loosen up. The Rockets broke out of the gates with five straight goals that started in the second period and went into the third.

Tyler Tindall tied the score 2-all to start the second, Jaxon Stone added his first goal of the day and Tyler Cuti put Reeths-Puffer up 4-2. All the goals came by the end of the period.

RP’s Connor Anderson. Photo/Joe Lane

The third period was more R-P as Aiden Harsell tallied a goal and Stone followed up with his second goal of the game. Cole VanDyke cinched up the final score with a goal.

Defense was key for Reeths-Puffer, which is backed in goal by sophomore netminder Huck VanDyke, who made 19 saves.

“He’s been lights out, super consistent,” said Langlois. “Even if we get scored on, it doesn’t rattle him. He stays focused, keeps us in games.”

Reeths-Puffer’s offense outshot the Bird Dogs 32-21 and was led by senior leader Stone with two goals and two assists.

“He gets a lot of ice time, the motor that kid has is unreal,” said Langlois. “He sees the game unlike anyone and he plays with our No. 1 line that sees the game differently. It’s something special.”

Reeths-Puffer goalie Huck VanDyke. Photo/Joe Lane

Tindal finished with a goal and an assist. Also netting assists for the Rockets were Cory Klint, Avery Freeland, Buckey Aney, Jake Leaf and Kaeden Benner.

“It’s unreal, I learned so much from my coach and I probably wouldn’t have graduated without the (Reeths-Puffer hockey) program,” said Langlois, who graduated from R-P. “Winning is fun, but giving these kids another family, these 22 guys are gelling together as a family and this has become more than a game of hockey.”

The Rockets’ win propels them into Friday’s Final Four matchup at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth for a 5 p.m. puck drop.

“Our fans, they were cheering us on and were a huge part of our success today,” said Langlois. “They gave us a great sendoff from the parking lot, it means so much to these boys and they’ve earned it and deserve every bit.”

There is a chance the Rockets will face No. 1 ranked Detroit Catholic Central in the semifinal matchup. The Final Four bracket is seeded and the Rockets are most likely going to be seeded No. 4, which would place them against the No. 1 seed.

“We have to play them (DCC) eventually, so let’s do it right now,” said Langlois. “Who’d a thought we’d be playing hockey in March. We are enjoying every second.”

Take a look a more photos from the Rockets’ big win shot by Joe Lane.