Portage Central started strong in their first game of 2019, taking the opening faceoff into the offensive zone and spending most of the first 5 minutes on the attack. Unfortunately, the Mustangs were not able to convert those chances into a goal. Eventually, Big Rapids started to push back and scored the first goal of the game on a breakaway. Big Rapids added a powerplay goal 3 minutes later and ended the first period with a 2-0 lead over the Mustangs.
The Mustangs got off to a shaky start in the second period as Big Rapids scored two goals 10 seconds apart to build a 4-0 lead just 4 minutes into the second period.
The Mustangs finally got on the board with a powerplay goal seven minutes into the second period. Skyler Sorenson fired a wrist shot at the net which was tipped by Luke Sproule and then bounced off a Big Rapids defenseman. Sproule jumped on the loose puck and fired it at the net. The Big Rapids goalie was only able to partially stop the puck, and the rebound squirted out to the side where Jaden Sorenson slapped it into the back of the net for the Mustangs' first goal.
Later in the second period, Konnor McLeod stole a Big Rapids pass in the defensive zone and sprinted past the Big Rapids defense down the ice on a breakaway. Just as McLeod was making his move around the goalie for a backhand shot, the Big Rapids defenseman took McLeod’s feet out. McLeod got the shot off in mid-air, then went careened into the goalie, into the net and knocked the net off its pegs and into the boards. No penalties were called, but the goal counted and the Mustang rally had life. The second period ended with the Mustangs trailing 2-4, but with momentum on their side.
The Mustangs continued to apply pressure in the third period, eventually drawing a hooking penalty on Big Rapids. While on the powerplay, Jaden Sorenson wrapped the puck around the offensive zone boards to defenseman Gavin Basosky who passed it down to the John Seals along the wall. Seals faked the defenseman one way and then skated around him to the faceoff dot where he fired a quick snap shot through the goalie’s 5 hole to light the lamp and bring the Mustangs within one goal at 3-4 with 12:56 left in the period.
Big Rapids responded by increasing the physicality of the game, which led to a series of penalties on both sides and slowed the Mustangs’ momentum. While the Mustangs had chances, they were not able to tie the game. Big Rapids eventually capitalized on a powerplay with 5 minutes left in the game for a two goal lead and added their sixth goal with 2:33 left in the game.
Bryan Gracey stopped 41 of Big Rapids’ 47 shots on goal while the Mustangs scored 3 times on their 21 shots on goal.
The Mustangs return to league play on Wednesday night against the Kalamazoo United team. Game time is 7:45 pm at Wing West Ice Arena.