FHC hockey defeats Reeths Puffer and wins Conference Championship

Sam Hopkins, Sports Editor

On Friday night, the Rangers claimed both their nineteenth win and their Conference Championship trophy. FHC closed out the regular season with a big 8-4 win over Reeths Puffer in a high scoring affair. They look to keep their momentum rolling as they carry over their success into the upcoming postseason.

“My freshman year is the last time we won conference,” senior Mackey Withey said. “However, that was when we were Tier Two and it bumped us up to tier one. It’s a pretty big deal to win a Tier One Conference Championship my senior year. It definitely sends a message that we are the best team in the West Michigan.”

The first period one Friday night was filled with fireworks. A total of 8 shots hit the back of the net in the first seventeen minutes. Seniors Nicko Withey and Connor Foresman got the action going as they put the Rangers up two goals in the opening moments. The Rangers controlled the play in the first period and had the majority of puck possession inside of the Reeths Puffer zone. Senior Drake Deering got the start in goal for FHC, and made several saves throughout the night. Entering the postseason, there will be a big emphasis on keeping opposing teams off the score sheet.

“We came out strong scoring five in the first, but our defense struggled giving up three,” Nick said. “After the intermission, we locked down defensively only giving up one goal the rest of the night.”

At the end of the first, the Rangers led the Rockets 5-3 as the period came to a close.

Differentiating from the first, the second period was much more relaxed with less goal scoring. Both teams seemed to have settled into their element and were defending their respective nets with ease. The only two goals of the period came within the last two minutes of the second. Senior Mackey Withey added his name to the score sheet with a slap shot goal from just inside the blue line. Almost immediately after, Reeths Puffer answered back with a goal of their own. At the end of the second, FHC had held their lead at two goals and now led 6-4.

“We had a lead, and we just couldn’t let up,” Mackey said. “No huge adjustments were made, we just needed to keep playing hard.”

The third period brought more of the second. FHC continued to dominate the possession battle and control play on the Rockets end of the ice. Both junior Mason Kisler and senior Jack Bowling added goals to the Rangers total, increasing their lead to four. The Rangers managed to fend of the Rockets for the remainder of the third and cap off their regular season with a 8-4 victory.

The Rangers came away Friday night with a dominant victory, compared to their 3-2 win in the first meeting between these two teams earlier in the season. With momentum growing, FHC heads into the postseason with nothing to lose.

“Our mindset stays the same,” Nick said. “We give 100% effort on every shift. Clinching the conference championship isn’t anything. Our goal from the start has been a state championship.”