The puck dropped to start the 2018-19 hockey season and the Portage Central Mustangs were ready while the Grand Rapids Northview Wildcats were not.
The Mustangs started pouring shot on net and finally broke through 8 minutes into the game as #3 Konnor McLeod took a pass from #22 Jaden Sorenson and scored on a wicked short side, top shelf dagger over the Wildcat goalie. Three minutes later, McLeod corralled a rebound in the corner and dished it to #13 Hunter Maschke who was skating in front of the net. Maschke roofed the pass over the Wildcat goalie into the far side of the net for the shorthanded goal. Maschke finished the first period scoring by picking up a pass from #10 Ryan Jaros and zipping it past the Wildcat goalie’s glove for the first powerplay goal of the season. The Mustangs outshot the Wildcats in the first period 31 – 5 and lead 3-0 on the scoreboard.
The hitting picked up in the second period as the Wildcats tried to push back and get into the game. While the game was a bit more even, the Wildcats could not prevent Portage Central from scoring again. Portage Central was buzzing again if the offensive zone when Jaden Sorenson grabbed the puck and circled around a mass of players in front of the net for a shot. The shot was deflected but fluttered through the Wildcat goalie and into the net. Sorenson was assisted on the goal by #8 Luke Spoule and McLeod. The Wildcats broke through on the powerplay and scored, but the period ended with PC leading 4-1 and outshooting Northview 46-17.
The Mustangs came out in the third with an excellent effort as they killed off a 5 minute penalty. That effort lead to a powerplay of their own as McLeod scored his second of the night assisted by #16 Will Anderson and Sproule. The PC scoring parade continued when #14 Justin Hayward took a pass from Jaros and skated through the Wildcat defense for a shot on goal, which was stopped, but Hayward would not be denied and slammed his own rebound home to make the score 6-1. The Wildcats scored again, but the Mustangs answered back with their seventh and final goal of the game. The Mustangs were on the powerplay and Sproule and McLeod were working the puck behind the Wildcat net while Jaden Sorenson was taking a beating in front. As Sorenson was getting up from being knocked down by a Wildcat cross-check, he was hit with a sweet pass right on his blade from Sproule. Sorenson fired the puck past the Northview goalie for his second goal of the night and the Mustangs third powerplay goal.
Mustangs goalie Bryan Gracey saved 21 of the 23 shots he faced and earned the win. The Mustangs finished the game with 62 shots on goal.
Konnor McLeod lead the Mustangs with 5 points (2G, 3 A) while Jaden Sorenson (2G, 1A) and Hunter Maschke (2G) also scored multiple goals. Luke Sproule and Ryan Jaros had 2 assists each. In total, seven Mustangs scored a point.
The Mustangs open the SWMHSHL schedule on Wednesday night against Kalamazoo United at 5:15pm at Wings West Ice Arena.