The Kalamazoo Eagles kicked off their 2017-18 high school varsity hockey season with new coaches and a non-league 8-6 victory over the Kenowa Hills Knights at Walker Ice Arena on Wednesday night.
Carter Maxey started the scoring for the Eagles just 2:28 into the first period with a wrist shot from the low slot. The Knights evened the score 1-1 at 6:34 with a power play goal by Cole Cook. Later in the period with the Knights attacking in the Eagles zone, the Eagles cleared the puck and attempted a line change. The Knights goalie left the crease to play the cleared puck but the Eagles Jimmy Wressel streaked down center ice, beat the goalie to the puck and buried it for his first goal of the evening, giving the Eagles a 2-1 advantage at 8:27. Nolan Bruxvoort evened the score at 2-2 at 13:40 by first skating the puck behind the Eagles goal and while draped by the Eagles defense, skating to the low slot between the circles and letting off a low hard wrist shot through the Eagles goalie skates.
Colin Mehren of the Eagles broke the tie score midway through the second period with a coast to coast unassisted goal at 6:21. Jack Horton lit the lamp just 26 seconds later by flipping a loose puck over the Knights goalies shoulder to give the Eagles a slight cushion and 4-2 lead. While digging for the puck in the Knights zone and being harassed by the defense, Michael Winter was able to flip a pass to teammate Wressel who one timed a shot past the goalie, giving the Eagles a 5-2 lead at 12:37 of the period. Undaunted, the Knights Cook blasted a slap shot from top of the left circle at 13:25 of the 2nd to cut the lead to 5-3. Wressel earned his hat trick at 14:57 of the period by shooting a low glove side shot past the goalie, giving the Eagles a 6-3 lead to end the period.
An exciting third period was to ensue. The Knights Brendan DeNeen opened the scoring at 2:21 of the 3rd period with a nifty shot, cutting the deficit to 6-4. Cole Cook of the Knights earned a hat trick with a goal at 9:30, bringing the Knights within 1 goal, 6-5. With a Knight in the penalty box for Elbowing, Eagle Zachary Blackwell stuffed in a rebound on a shot from the point by Danny Keene for the eventual game winning goal and expand the Eagles lead to 7-5 at 12:22.
Not to be intimidated, the Knights Logan Granger scored a power play at 13:42 to make the game exciting at 7-6. After killing off a penalty, the Knights called a time out. Gaining the Eagles zone after the ensuing face off, the Knights pulled their goalie and put out an extra skater for a 6 on 5 advantage. Shane Courter of the Eagles was able to clear the defensive zone, Jimmy Wressel caught up to the puck and buried it in the empty Knights net for his 4th goal of the evening, completing a Texas hat trick.
The Eagles are now 1-0 on the season. Their next game, non-league, is Saturday 11-18, at 2:45 pm against Jenison, at Wings West in Kalamazoo.