The Portage Central Mustangs can be a fast team and they came out flying Saturday against the Falcons of Grand Rapids West Catholic. The Mustangs were frequently able to skate past and pass around the Falcons to create scoring opportunities.
The Mustangs scored 98 seconds into the first period when Justin Hayward grabbed a loose puck in the defensive zone and skated behind the PC net to pick up speed and start the attack. Hayward made a touch pass off the side boards to Konnor McLeod who caught the puck in stride and raced down the ice with Canyon Morse, creating a 2 on 1. The Falcon defenseman chose to cover Morse, leaving an open lane for McLeod who took advantage and fired the puck past the goalie for a 1-0 lead.
The Mustangs were not able to increase their lead in the first period as they spent 7 of the last 12 minutes of the period on the penalty kill, include a 2 minute long 5 on 3 kill. Luckily, the Mustang defense and goaltender, Zach Hufford, played great and killed off all of those minutes without allowing a goal.
West Catholic finally found the back of the net in the second period on a one timer in the slot off a pass from behind the net. PC stormed back 41 seconds later to retake the lead 2-1. PC Forward John Seals stole the puck from the Falcons in the neutral zone and quickly turned it back up ice. Seals used some quick hands and a pass back and forth with Sam Anderson to work the puck into the zone, eventually passing it off to Skyler Sorenson at the point. Sorenson fired a wicked wrist shot past the goalie’s ear and into the net.
The Mustangs added to the lead just over two minutes later. The Falcons were on the offensive and had just moved the puck to the point where Jaden Sorenson went out to harass the defender. While Sorenson wasn’t able to grab the puck, he did force the defender to make a bad pass, which Konnor McLeod pounced on and sprinted down the ice. McLeod skated past or around 3 defenders on his way to the net, where he dropped his shoulder, moved inside a bit and zipped the puck wide side into the top right corner of the net to light the lamp for his second goal of the evening.
Early in the third period, West Catholic scored again on a one-time shot from the slot to bring the game closer at 3-2, but the Mustangs kept skating and were able to extend the lead again. Skyler Sorenson grabbed a loose puck in the defensive zone and worked it around to McLeod. McLeod spotted Morse open on the far side of the ice and hit him with a pinpoint cross ice pass that sprung Morse into the zone just ahead of the defender. The defender dove unsuccessfully to knock the puck away and allowed Morse to fake a wide side move, them bring the puck back and bury it in the net before tripping over the goalie and careening into the corner for a Sportscenter worthy highlight!
The last goal of the game started from a faceoff in the Mustang zone. The Falcons had pulled their goalie and once the puck dropped there was a mad scramble to gain control. Skyler Sorenson eventually got a handle on the puck and slid it over to Morse who was clear of the madness. Morse took a few steps then carefully shot the puck down the ice into the empty net for the team’s 5th goal of the night!
Hufford played well in net, stopping a few breakaways and all but two of the 18 shots he faced. The Mustangs peppered the Falcons with 37 shots on goal.
The Mustangs improve to a 10 - 10 record for the season.
Konnor McLeod (2G, 1A) and Skyler Sorenson (1G, 2A) each had three points while Canyon Morse added 2 goals.
Upcoming Portage Central Hockey Games:
Saturday, February 16 – PC at Mattawan at 7:00 pm
Part of the Hockey Fights for Kids with Autism Event