The Kalamazoo Eagles High School Hockey team was grounded by the Jenison High School Wildcats in a non-league 8-3 loss at Wings West Arena on Saturday afternoon.
The Wildcats came out fast and furious. Brendan Veltema netted the first goal of the game for the Cats 0:44 into the first period, putting in a rebound during a scramble in front of the net. Just 21 seconds later, Xander Hall found the net, putting the Cats up 2-0 with a hard shot from near the top of the left circle. While on a power play, Carter Maxey of the Eagles was able to sneak the puck into the net, cutting the deficit to 2-1 at 10:05 of the period. At 14:18, the Eagles Zach Blackwell gained control of the puck in the Cats zone and skated behind the net taking the Cats defensemen with him. Zack flipped a quick pass out front to the waiting Michael Winter who buried it in the net, tying the game at 2.
It was a productive period for the Wildcats in the second. Noah Sheldon worked the puck behind the net, fooled the Eagles defense, and stuffed the puck in on a wrap around, giving the Cats a 3-2 lead at 1:11. The Cats took advantage of a power play opportunity as Nick Rathsack made is 4-2 with a hard shot from the slot at 2:45. Sheldon netted his second goal of the game at 4:16 putting the Cats up 5-2. Jimmy Wressel brought the Eagles to within 2, 5-3, at 5:18 of the period by skating hard into the zone against one defender, holding of the defender and burying the puck in the net. Any hopes of completing the comeback were thwarted when the Eagles goalie lost his stick and the Wildcats Anthony Mollica took advantage, shooting and scoring giving the Wildcats a 6-3 lead to close the period.
The Eagles couldn’t take advantage of 4 power play opportunities in the third period. The Wildcats applied consistent pressure in the Eagles zone, with Branden Veltema scoring an even strength goal at 4:23 giving the Cats a 7-3 cushion. Continuing the offensive zone pressure allowed Nick Rathsack to net his second goal of the game at 6:15, making it 8-3 Wildcats. The Wildcats took four penalties putting the Eagles on the power play for much of the remainder of the period, including a 5 on 3 advantage for 20 seconds. The Eagles were unable to capitalize and the game ended with a Wildcat victory.
The Eagles are now 1-1 on the season. Their first league game is Wednesday 11-22 at 5:15 pm against Mattawan at Wings West in Kalamazoo.