Big Rapids mounts comeback against Oilers

Cardinal hockey scores twice in third period for 5-4 win

BIG RAPIDS — Tim Blashill feels Tuesday night’s hockey game against Mount Pleasant could be the turning point for his Big Rapids hockey team.

The Cardinals, for the first time this season, came back to win a game, scoring a 5-4 victory over the Oilers at the Ewigleben Ice Arena.

CLOSE TO THE NET: Big Rapids' Derrick Defever skates in on the Mount Pleasant net during Tuesday night hockey action. (Pioneer photo/Bob Allan)

Big Rapids trailed 4-3 heading into the third period, but scored two goals 10 minutes apart to earn the victory.

“We won this game because of our seniors,” Blashill said. “They willed us to the win and sometimes you need that to happen.”

One of those seniors, Derrick Defever, had a big game, scoring twice and adding an assist. Defever’s second goal came five minutes into the 17-minute period to even the game at 4-4. Fellow senior Blaze Hogan earned an assist.

Ten minutes later, Mitchell Hawes was all alone in front of the Mount Pleasant net and put the game-winner on the board with less than three minutes remaining. Pete Daniels and Grayson Barbot earned assist.

“Our seniors really stepped it up,” Blashill said of the likes of Defever, Hogan, Barbot, Tim Dawkins and Patrik Langenburg. “This was Derrick’s best game, not only scoring goals, but all around play. Barbot was solid, Patrik did a good job of keeping them together.

“I think our younger guys fed off of that and though they didn’t get a lot of ice time, played well,” he continued.

Dawkins opened the scoring with Defever earning the assist six minutes into the contest. But Mount Pleasant’s Robert Backus would score the first of his three goals just moments later to even the game at 1-1 at the first intermission.

Big Rapids out-shot the Oilers 14-10 in the first period.

“I thought we didn’t come out with enough desperation that is needed,” Blashill said. “We are a team that has to earn everything, so I didn’t think that was a good period.”

Blashill challenged the team to hold Mount Pleasant to six shots or less in the second period. From that standpoint, the Cardinals succeeded as the Oilers managed just four shots.

Unfortunately, three found the back of the net as Mount Pleasant led 4-3 going into the third period. Backus scored twice, while Evan Huber lit the lamp once for the Oilers.

Big Rapids, however, stayed in the game due to an unassisted goal by Barbot and Defever’s first goal of the night. Dawkins and Joe Carney earned assists.

“I thought the kids played well in the second period, but again, there was one thing in each of their goals that could have stopped each of them,” Blashill said.

That led to the two-goal third period and a Big Rapids victory which saw Mount Pleasant get only four shots on goal.

“That was our best period of the season,” Blashill said. “The boys are doing a lot of the right things, now to take the next step, we have to be consistent and that is what we have been battling all year.”

Big Rapids is in action Saturday when it hosts Forest Hills Northern/Eastern.

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