Cards roll Monroe St. Mary CC

Big Rapids gets its offense going in 6-1 victory Friday

 BIG RAPIDS — After starting the season 0-3 and scoring only three goals in those first three games, the Big Rapids hockey team got its offense going Friday night in a 6-1 victory over Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central in the first round of the Cardinals’ Thanksgiving tournament.

ON THE MOVE: Big Rapids’ Brad Walling (13) moves the puck down the ice while Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central’s Shane Hughes chases him down. The Cardinals won, 6-1. (Pioneer photo/Greg Buckner)

ON THE MOVE: Big Rapids’ Brad Walling (13) moves the puck down the ice while Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central’s Shane Hughes chases him down. The Cardinals won, 6-1. (Pioneer photo/Greg Buckner)

With the victory, the Cardinals will face Wyandotte Roosevelt in the championship game Saturday at 2 p.m.

The Cardinals fell behind early when St. Mary’s Shane Hughes scored on assists from Robert Cicero and Chase Loot just 47 seconds into the first period, but the Cardinals scored six unanswered goals the rest of the way to come away with their first victory of the season.

“It’s huge,” Big Rapids coach Tim Blashill said of Friday’s victory. “The first period we got outshot, 14-5, so I really credit the guys for staying with it. We obviously wanted to come out better, but our goaltender played well and kept us in the game.

“One or two more goals against, and it’s a whole different game,” he continued. “I really appreciate the way the guys stayed with it and came out in the second and played much better and really dominated in the third period.”

After St. Mary’s took the early 1-0 lead, the Cardinals knotted the score at 1-1 on an unassisted goal by sophomore Brendan Bomay with 8:43 to go in the opening period.

After the two squads headed into the first intermission still tied at 1-1, the Cardinals really got the offense going in the second period with a three goal scoring run.

Big Rapids’ first goal came at 13:14 to go in the second when junior Evan Monko put the puck in the net on an assist from junior Garrett Garner to give the Cardinals a 2-1 lead.

The Cardinals’ notched their second goal of the period when Bomay knocked in his second goal of the night on an assist from senior Sterling Brinker with 12:43 to go in the second before Monko put in his second goal of the night on assists from Brinker and Garner with 10:55 to go in the period to send the Cardinals into the second intermission with a 4-1 advantage.

“It’s the first time all year we’ve seen that kind of energy on the bench,” Blashill said of the second-period rally. “I think that’s contagious. I think every line started going off that and we had a few rookies score some goals (Friday). Everyone was contributing.”

Blashill said while the goals were a highlight of the second period, he was most pleased with the blocked shots his players had in that period.

“They blocked shots and started doing those little things right,” he said. “Some young guys came up with some big blocks and those were as highly cheered for as the goals were, and that’s a great sign for our team.”

The Cardinals put the game away in the third period with back-to-back shorthanded goals. Monko got the first shorthanded goal on an assist from Brinker, his third of the night, to give himself a hat trick for the night at 7:11 to go in the third and Garner picked up the other shorthanded goal with 3:09 to play to set the final score at 6-1.

Senior Joey Hinds made 24 saves on the night for the Cardinals. Big Rapids held a 29-25 advantage in shots on goal.

With the momentum of their first victory of the season, Blashill said the Cardinals will need to continue to do the little things right in Saturday’s championship game against Wyandotte to come away as tournament champions.

“Wyandotte’s a very good team,” he said. “They’re always a junior, senior type team and they always have some big numbers. It’s going to be a great game. If we keep doing the right things, we’ll have a chance to beat them.”

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