Panther skaters win Cadillac tournament

TJ Denhof

Jr. Ben Burns skated down the ice, weaving between Rockford players. Burns took the puck wide and ripped a laser shot toward the net. Burns form, technique and accuracy were all exquisite. As the puck flew through the air towards the empty corner of the net, the Rockford goalie slid across the crease and deflected the puck just outside the net to the corner of the rink. For the first five games of the season, besides the 8-0 rout of Kalamazoo Eagles, the Panthers struggled to score against opponents. This was not the case this past weekend when the Panthers scored five goals in two games, winning their tournament in Cadillac, MI.          

  The first game got off to a quick start when Sr. Ryan Green took a slapshot and hit a defender in front of the net. Burns was able to grab the blocked shot, make a move one on one with the goalie and bury the puck into the empty net. The Panthers were off to a great start. Soph. Tommy Buis and Jr. TJ Denhof also added a goal. Burns completed the game with another goal at .1 second left in the game with an empty netter. The game ended in a 4-2 win, and without the production by the offense the game would have resulted in a loss.

  After winning the same tournament last year, the Panthers looked to be back to back champions when they faced Davison in the championship game. The score stayed 0-0 through the first period, and looked like it was going to stay that way until 26 seconds left in the second period. Burns won a faceoff back to Denhof who shot through three different defenders. Davison’s goalie was not able to control Denhof’s shot and left a juicy rebound for Burns to swoop in and tuck it under the crossbar. The score stayed 1-0 as the Panthers held on to the lead to win the championship game.

 The ability to execute and score was the difference maker in this tournament. The Panthers offense started to put up points, a big reason they went undefeated this weekend. Make sure to watch the Panthers on December 21 at the Edge Ice Arena as they take on Lowell in an exciting match up.