PC 5, Walled Lake Northern 3
Portage Central Mustang Hockey team traveled to the Arctic Coliseum to participate in the Chelsea Thanksgiving Hockey Tournament and faced the Knights from Walled Lake Northern High School in the Friday game.
The Mustangs got off to a quick start as senior John Seals (#12 ) scored just over 3 minutes into the game. Filip Hendl (#4 ) chipped the puck out of the zone and Seals beat the Knight's defenseman to the puck. Seals then fired a sharp angle bullet that found its way through the goalie's pads for the first goal of the game. Walled Lake evened the game and then took the lead with 2 goals scored :12 seconds apart. One was a goal front scramble and the other a backdoor pass, neither of which Mustang senior goalie Bryan Gracey had any chance to stop.
The Mustangs pushed back and were pressuring the Knights as Hauer fired a shot on goal and the rebound bounced out to John Seals who tapped it to senior forward #14 Justin Hayward who was able to slam it into the net. Seals was railed into the net and the goalie by a Knight defenseman, but the goal counted and the first period ended in a 2-2 tie.
Walled Lake Northern increased the pressure on the Mustangs and carried much of the play in the second period, outshooting the Mustangs 19-5. The Mustangs were able to push back with good defense, which lead to their next two goals. #16 Will Anderson separated a Knight forward from the puck in the defensive zone and John Seals picked up the loose puck, skated into the offensive zone and wired a slapshot into the top left corner of the net for the go ahead goal!
The Mustangs' 4th goal started with defense also. Senior Luke Sproule (#8) sacrificed his body and blocked a shot from the point. The shot deflected up and out of the Mustang zone. Sproule was able to jump to his feet and outskate the Knight defenseman to the puck. Sproule then converted his breakaway into a lamp-lighter with a nice snipe past the blocker of the goaltender.
Walled Lake scored in the last minute of the period on the powerplay to get within one goal at the end of the second.
The teams exchanged chances in the third period, but Bryan Gracey and the Mustang defense held strong. The final goal was scored with 54 second left as Sproule won a defensive face-off back to Hayward who sent the puck up the boards to #10 Ryan Jaros as he was racing out of the zone. Jaros smacked the defenders stick out of the way, grabbed the puck at the red line and wristed it into the empty net to secure the win.
Bryan Gracey finished with 35 saves on 38 shots for a .921 save percentage for his first win of the season.
The Mustangs will play the host team, The Chelsea Bulldogs, in the championship game Saturday at 6pm.