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Photo: Kevin Sidell

Mustangs Fall Short in Public High School Showcase

By T Hufford, 02/05/20, 7:15AM EST

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Penalties and Bad Bounces Too Much for PC to Overcome

Portage Central played two games this weekend in the Michigan Public High School Hockey Showcase held at the Arctic Coliseum in Chelsea.

PC 4 vs Livonia-Franklin 7
The Mustangs faced off against Livonia-Franklin High School on Friday night. Franklin jumped out to a 2 goal lead in the first 3 minutes of the game, but #13 Hunter Maschke carried the Mustangs back into the game. Maschke scored the first Mustang goal with a tip on a great pass from #10 Ryan Jaros. Five minutes later while on the penalty kill, Maschke stole the puck in the neutral zone , darted into the offensive zone and scored a shortside goal to tie the game at 2. 

The Franklin Warriors scored two more goals before PC could light the lamp again. #14 Justin Hayward scored with a rocket of a shot while on the powerplay. Assists on the goal went to Jaros and Maschke and the Mustangs were only one goal behind.

PC tied the game a few minutes into the third period when #23 Noah Sidell pounced on a loose puck in the defensive zone and fired it cross ice off the boards where #22 Jaden Sorenson picked it up in stride and rushed the puck into the zone. Sorenson skated past the defenseman, gave the goalie a shimmie shake to move him a little, then fired the puck past his glove to light the lamp!

Unfortunately, Franklin scored 10 seconds after the PC goal to retake the lead and then two more goals in the third, including a shorthanded, empty-netter to cement the outcome of the contest as Livonia-Franklin went on to win by a score of 7-4

PC Mustangs 5 vs New Baltimore Anchor Bay Tars 6

The Mustangs were back on the ice Sunday afternoon for their second game of the Showcase, this time against the Tars from New Baltimore Anchor Bay High School. This was a back and forth game with 4 lead changes, 5 times the game was tied up and 6 powerplay goals, 3 by each team.

PC opened the scoring with a beautiful powerplay goal. Will Anderson made a crisp pass across ice to the mid boards and Ryan Jaros. Jaros also made a crisp cross ice saucer pass through traffic to Hunter Maschke who fired the puck at a sharp angle into the net! Anchor Bay scored on a breakaway to even the game at 1 and the end of the first period.

Anchor Bay scored a powerplay goal when the puck deflected off a PC defender into the top corner of the net early in the second period to take the lead, but Portage Central tied the game back up when #7 Beckett Saline and Jaros were able to work the puck to Hayward in the slot. Hayward took a full wind up and enleashed a bomb of a slapshot and blew it by the goaltender for PC's second goal of the night.

The Mustangs got caught pinching and Anchor Bay scored on another breakaway to take the lead, but PC answered back with another powerplay. Maschke deked the goalie toward center ice then fired a laser shortside for the goal. Assists went to Will Anderson and Hayward.

Anchor Bay answered with their own powerplay goal to take the lead 4-3, but that only lasted 20 seconds before PC was able to tie the game up again. Will Anderson fired a shot from the point which the goalie was able to stop, but #12 John Seals grabbed the rebound and quickly wrapped around the goal and slid it into the far side of the net before the goalie was able to get there to tie game at 4.

Anchor Bay pulled ahead when they fired a puck into that mass of bodies battling in front of the Mustang net. The puck bounced off bodies like a Plinko game, but dropped to the far side of the PC goalie and right onto an Anchor Bay players stick. He fired the gift into the net and PC was down a goal again at the end of the second period, 4-5.

PC battled during the third period and was finally able to tie the game again. Anchor Bay threw the puck down the ice to relieve the offensive pressure, but Mustang goalie #35 Zach Hufford grabbed the puck and fired it back up the ice to Jaros, catching the Tars in the middle of a change. Jaros weaved his way through the Anchor Bay players, faked a shot, then tucked the puck into the far side of the net for a powerplay goal.

PC had another powerplay chance, but was unable to score and then got called for a cross-checking penalty. 

PC defended well  for a while, but the Anchor Bay player skated around a defender and then fired a top corner, bar-down shot before anyone else could get to him. Anchor Bay took a 6-5 lead with only 1:06 left to play. The Mustangs pulled the goalie, but were unable to score.

Hufford played well despite stopping only 24 of 30 shots. Jaros (1G, 2A) and Will Anderson (3A) lead the team in points for the night.

PC is back on the ice on Wednesday at 7:30pm  for an important league match against the Kalamazoo Eagles in the 2nd Annual Hockey Fights Cancer game between these two teams.