Cards fall in consolation game

Rockford tops Big Rapids 5-0 in holiday tournament

BIG RAPIDS – A night after putting three goals on the board for the first time this season, the Big Rapids hockey team wasn’t able to replicate its offensive production in a 5-0 loss to Rockford.

The loss came in the consolation game of Big Rapids’ holiday tournament, dropping the Cardinals to 0-12-1 on the season.

After taking a 1-0 lead in the first period, the Rams scored three goals in a three-minute stretch in the second to take a commanding 4-0 lead, and left the Cardinals searching for answers.

SIDE BY SIDE: Big Rapids defenseman Brad Walling (left) stays with Rockford’s David Sokol during Saturday’s holiday tournament at Ewigleben Ice Arena. (Pioneer photo/Martin Slagter)

“I think we’re lacking confidence as a whole,” Big Rapids coach Tim Blashill said. “We’ve got this monkey on our backs right now of not having a win. I think once we get that first win, that will alleviate some of that pressure. I think we’re better than we were in November, we just need to keep that process going.”

Rockford scored first with 4:35 remaining in the first period when Stephen Shira beat Joe Hinds glove side, with assists going to Jacob Smyth and Jonas Iversen.

Big Rapids would get one of its best opportunities to score on a power play later in the first, but the Cardinals were unable to convert. Big Rapids was 0-for-3 with the man advantage on Saturday, while limiting Rockford to 0-for-1 on power play opportunities.

The Rams busted the game open in the second when Blake Ehrhart deflected a Brandon Perry shot with 12:53 to go.

Rockford’s Trevor Mills then intercepted a Cardinal pass deep in their zone and converted on an unassisted goal just two minutes later to increase the lead to 3-0.

A little less than two minutes later the Rams struck again when Noah Brayton finished a breakaway with his first of two goals on the afternoon to make it 4-0 with 9:10 left in the second.

Big Rapids had a pair of power play opportunities in the late stages of the second period, but were unable to convert.

“We’ve got to finish our chances,” Blashill said. “Late in the first period was a great chance to do that. We had three power plays to their one, but we need to have that urgency when we have those chances.”

Rockford added its final goal of the day with 2:57 to go on Brayton’s second goal, assisted by Mills and Michael Moroney.

The Cardinals will look to pick up their first win of the season when they host Muskegon Reeths-Puffer at 7 p.m. on Friday.

“The good thing is that the guys are sticking together – they’re not packing it in,” Blashill said. “We’re playing some good hockey, it’s not like we’re out of it. The big thing is we need to score goals.”

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