Hockey advances to Regional Final with win in 3-2 thriller over Jackson Lumen Christi

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Jeff Robertson, Varsity Sports Photo

Freshman Sammy Mielock’s game-winning goal late in the second period propelled the Rangers to close out the Regional semifinal in a thrilling end-to-end game; players on both FHC and Jackson Lumen Christi poured their hearts out on the ice for the entirety of the contest in what was an exciting game to watch. Thanks to Sammy’s goal, the Rangers edged out a 3-2 win over an impressive Titan squad.

Coming into this game, the Titans of Jackson Lumen Christi had a 23-3 record, with resume-building wins over East Grand Rapids, Mattawan, and Flint Powers. While the Titans don’t play the toughest of regular-season schedules with their conference, those three wins are impressive nonetheless against some of the region’s best teams. 

Through the first ten minutes of competition, there wasn’t a whole lot of serious scoring chances from either time, excluding a couple of close threats. However, in the final five minutes of the first period, things started to pick up. Junior Gavin Brady was forced into a couple of tough saves, as was Lumen Christi goaltender Gavin Warner. 

Then, with 2:30 to go, the Rangers were on the power play. Off an assist from senior Grant Cardin, sophomore Tyler Weaver put the Rangers on top in a scramble near the net. However, the Titans managed to keep up the pressure and return the favor with many chances of their own, and they quickly evened it up just over a minute later. On a 1-on-1 with Gavin awaiting in net, Jackson Lumen Christi’s initial shot was saved, but the puck took a high bounce and found the back of the net.

In the second period, the offensive action did anything but let up. This time around, the Titans were on the power play. Despite being a man down, the Rangers managed to keep up the pressure and forced multiple turnovers. Eventually, senior Cole Munger found himself on a breakaway of his own, and he made a beautiful move to beat Jackson Lumen Christi’s Gavin Warner in net to give FHC the lead with 12 minutes to go in the second. 

Just like the first time the Rangers scored, though, the Titans quickly responded. As both teams amped up the intensity even more, Lumen Christi found themselves deep in the FHC end. The puck found the center of the ice, and the shot was quickly fired at Gavin from the middle of the ice. Gavin made a quick reaction to his left in a valiant attempt to save the shot, but the puck snuck through five-hole to tie things up with nine minutes to play in the period.

Yet, just five minutes later, the Rangers regained the lead. Sammy snuck one through in a tough spot for the lead with four minutes to go, and this would end up being the final goal of the game. The freshman has made an immense impact all season, scoring six goals and assisting eight, despite sitting out an extended period of time due to an injury. 

The story of the third period was undeniably defense, and it wasn’t just from the Rangers’ side. Both teams went back-and-forth on the ice, and both defenses hung on to keep their teams in the game. With just over eight minutes to go, Tyler got FHC’s best offensive chance of the period, but his shot on the two-on-one was saved by Warner. 

For the remaining part of regulation, the Titans tried everything they could to tie things up. With 2:29 to go in the game, they even found themselves on a very dangerous two-on-one, but Gavin came up strong when the time mattered most, stopping the shot short of the net in arguably his best save of the night. From there, the Rangers closed things out and finished with a 3-2 win.

With this win, the hockey team advances to the Regional final, its second appearance in four years. The Rangers will take on Grand Rapids Catholic Central, who currently are 13-10-3. The Cougars were defeated by FHC earlier in the season by a score of 3-1, and the Rangers will look to replicate this performance with another strong defensive showing. GRCC boasts two wins over Byron Center—a team that beat FHC 4-3 in the first game of the season. The contest will take place on Wednesday, March 4 at Southside Ice Arena.