The Grand Rapids Christian Eagles entered this week with a four game winning streak and a 5-2 record. After dropping Wednesday’s contest against Forest Hills Central, the Eagles had two tough matchups against Hartland and Cranbrook-Kingswood, two of the best teams from Michigan’s East side. The offensive attacks of these two were too much for Christian, as they fell to even their record back at 5-5 heading into the holiday.
FRIDAY: Hartland 4 Grand Rapids Christian 1
This Battle of the Eagles pitted GR Christian against Hartland. Both teams were shutout in the first two periods, but Hartland had outshot Christian 29-22. It had been another solid forty minutes from Drew Hoeksema in goal, but the third period saw the tides turn in Hartland’s favor. On their first three shots on goal in the third period, Hartland converted them for goals. This game them a very cushioned 3-0 lead with 7:30 to play in the game.
Grand Rapids Christian would take less than a minute to respond with their first goal of the evening. Kavanaugh Kane sent it in from just inside the blue line before Graham Kormash put it past the goaltender. It was Kormash’s fourth goal of the season. Kane recorded his fourth assist of the year on this one, and Jack Zwiers was also credited with an assist on the play.
There were some opportunities for the Eagles to get within a goal, but none came to fruition in the final six minutes. Hartland scored their fourth goal on an empty net, as Grand Rapids Christian had pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. With the win, Hartland improved to 9-1 on the season. They defeated Byron Center on Saturday to improve their record to 10-1 on the year. It appears that Hartland will have another great year after their 2018 Division 2 State Championship run.
SATURDAY: Cranbrook 6 Grand Rapids Christian 2
On Saturday, the Eagles took on the Cranes of Cranbrook-Kingswood, one of the most storied programs in the state. Since the MHSAA started sponsoring hockey in 1975, they have brought home 17 MHSAA State Hockey titles. Their most recent title came in 2015, but their team looks poised for another run this year. They had zero problem with the Eagles in a 6-2 blowout that moved their record to 9-2.
The offensive barrage for the Cranes started early as they scored a pair of goals in the first period on thirteen shots to take a 2-0 lead. The second period saw a pair of goals yet against for Cranbrook as they capitalized on eleven shots to expand the lead to 4-1. In the final period, Cranbrook scored two more goals to extend the lead to the final 6-2 margin.
Despite giving up six goals, Zack Dodson did stop 26 shots in Saturday’s defeat. He has now made 172 saves in seven starts in the net for the Eagles this season, turning out a 3-4 record with a 3.43 GAA.
Grand Rapids Christian scored two goals in the defeat on Saturday. Graham Kormash scored in this one, his fifth game of the season. This places him one behind Jack Zwiers for the team lead. Benjamin Buitema scored the other goal for the Eagles, his fourth of the season.
Recording assists in this game for the Eagles were Ashton Bol, Kormash and Jack Zwiers. Bol leads the team with eight assists on the year, and Zwiers’ assist gave him the team points lead with twelve.
The Eagles are now without a game for thirteen days over the holiday break. At 5-5 on the year, the month of January will go a long way in determining how this team stacks up for a postseason run. To begin a busy month, they are back in action with a game against East Kentwood on Friday January 4. This game is being played at Lakeshore Sports Centre in Muskegon. Grand Rapids Christian also has a Saturday January 5 game against an opponent to be determined in Muskegon. The following weekend, they will be in Traverse City taking on the Trojans of Traverse City Central. After another road game at Reeths-Puffer on January 23, the Eagles will finally return home for a Friday January 25 tilt against East Grand Rapids. They wrap up January with a Saturday January 26 home matchup with Lowell-Cal.