Cards’ attack too much for Manistee

MANISTEE — With the barrage of shots Big Rapids sent toward Manistee’s goal Tuesday night, it was simply a matter of time before a few found the back of the net.

The Chippewas gave a valiant effort on the defensive end, but the Cardinals’ attack proved too much en route to their 6-1 win.

“We have to finish a little better, but you’ve got to give credit to their goalkeeper,” Big Rapids coach Justin Fox said of Manistee’s Max Minorati, who finished with 18 saves. “He made a ton of saves and made good ones early.

ONE ON ONE: Big Rapids’ Ansel White approaches the goal against Manistee on Tuesday. (Pioneer photo/Dylan Savela)

“Once he does that, the guys might think they need to do more than they really do. They were frustrated a bit.”

Frustration proved fruitful for the determined Cardinals (7-2), however, who were led by Scott Vander Sloot’s hat trick, and Sam Miller’s two-goal game.

Caleb Brown scored the Chippewas’ lone goal of the game on a penalty kick, but Manistee (1-9-1) couldn’t make much noise offensively by being outshot 24-4 on the night.

“We saw some improvement in some basic fundamental stuff, so we’re taking a look at just building from there,” said Manistee coach Rudy Guillen. “We know it’s not going to come together overnight, but we saw an improvement. Granted, we saw a lot of shots that first half, but Max did a heck of a job back there.”

Big Rapids set the tone early, firing five shots Minorati’s direction in the first five minutes. Vander Sloot finally got his team on the board at 32:31 off a feed from Shawn Heroor.

The Chippewas defused many situations deep in their own end to keep the deficit at just one score, but Miller made good on a breakaway at 9:21 for a two-goal lead. He again found room at 4:26, with just one defender to beat, and punched in his second goal of the night for a 3-0 advantage.

Big Rapids fired 16 shots in all in the first half.

“We do like to possess the ball a lot, and I think the guys did a good job of that,” Fox said of the plentiful opportunities in the first half. “I liked the fact that I had some guys playing a couple new positions, or some more minutes than they normally do, and they did well with the time that they had.”

Brown brought the margin back to two goals when he blasted his PK kick to the right side of the net with just 2:59 remaining in the half. The goal gave the Chippewas a 3-1 deficit at the break.

Manistee limited the shots on its own goal in the second half, and possessed the ball longer than they did in the first. Big Rapids, however, took a 4-1 lead when Vander Sloot punched in his second goal of the game off a rebound at 26:45, and then completed his hat trick at 16:39 for a 5-1 cushion.

A defensive breakdown with 4:09 remaining resulted in Manistee inadvertently knocking in its own goal for 6-1 hole, which stood up as the final score.

Despite the outcome, Guillen was pleased with the effort his team showed during the uphill battle.

“In the second half, I thought we were in the attacking third quite a bit, so the improvement is there, too,” he said. “We’re seeing that improvement, and we’re trying to build off of it.

“We knew Big Rapids would be tough — they always are — but for us to hold them in check like we did for a while tonight, I was pretty pleased with that.”

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