Hunter Maschke scored the game winner and Zach Hufford turned away the Blue Devil attack to deliver a Mustang Victory in the opening game of the Southwest Michigan High School Hockey League (SWMHSHL) Showcase Tournament.
The Blue Devils started the game strong and generated a number of quality scoring chances. Portage Central goalie, Zach Hufford, stood tall and held the Blue Devils off the board for much of the first period. At one point, the Blue Devils skated past everyone and had a 3-0 breakaway, but Hufford was able to make the glove save and end that threat.
The Mustangs struck first when Jaden Sorenson took a pass in the slot from Canyon Morse and fired the puck. Sorenson’s shot deflected off a Blue Devil defenseman and fluttered into the net to give the Mustangs the 1-0 lead. Gaylord tied the game a few minutes later when they scored on a 2 on 1 rush. Gaylord outshot the Mustangs 11-8 in the first period, but the period ended in a 1-1 tie.
Gaylord took the lead in the second period when they intercepted a clearing pass and fired the puck through a screen and past Hufford. The lead was short-lived as the Mustangs tied the game just 24 seconds later. Morse took the faceoff and worked the puck behind the Blue Devil net where he was knocked off the puck. Konner McLeod picked up the puck, deked out the defenseman and fired the puck through the goalie’s five hole for the equalizer. Gaylord outshot the Mustangs again in the second period 12-8, but the game stayed tied at 2 after 2 periods.
The Mustangs came out with more jump in the third period and they used that momentum to take the lead for good. Colin Hauer got the play started in the defensive zone by chipping the puck up to John Seals. Seals skated the puck through the neutral zone and was joined by Hunter Maschke to give the Mustangs a 2 on 1 breakaway. Seals fired the puck low and it rebounded off the goalie’s leg pad to Maschke who slammed it into the net for the go ahead goal.
Hufford was able to turn away all of the Blue Devil shots and when they pulled the goalie, McLeod made them pay by picking up a Skyler Sorenson pass and burying it into the empty net for his second goal of the game with only 4 seconds left on the clock.
Hufford earned his first high school hockey win, making 29 saves on 31 shots.