The third and final contest Saturday at Wings West was the most dramatic as Kobe Vincent scored with 0.4 remaining to deliver a 2-1 win for Portage Central over Mattawan in the 15th annual Renbarger Cup game. In the earlier games in the fifth annual Youth Hockey Fights For Kids with Autism event, Kalamazoo United defeated Portage Northern 7-3 and the Southwest Michigan Blades topped the Kalamazoo Eagles 4-3.
In the final game, it stayed scoreless until 13:08 remained in the second period on an unassisted Mattawan goal by Ben Berkowitz. With 24 seconds left in the second, Max Mones deflected a shot from Erek Decker to tie the game on the powerplay at 1-1. Both teams had powerplays and chances, but both defenses and goaltenders held firm, keeping the score at 1-1 until the final second of regulation. At 0.4, senior defenseman Kobe Vincent put it over the left shoulder for the Portage Central victory.
Listen to the final moments here:
The victory puts Portage Central at 7-12 overall and 4-4 in SWMHSHL play, good for third in the standings. Mattawan falls to 10-7-1 overall and 6-2-1 in league play. The win ends a two-year losing streak for the Mustangs against the Wildcats. Mattawan had beaten them 6-1 this season and won thrice last year, including in the league championship.
In the first game of the evening, Kalamazoo United moved to the top spot in the league standings, improving to 7-1 in league and 17-1-1 overall thanks to a 7-3 win against Portage Northern. The loss dropped the Huskies to 5-14 overall and 1-7 in league.
United gained a 2-0 lead after the first period thanks to goals by Topher Strunk and Noel Cavey. Nathan Carr added to the lead in the second, but Eli Cartier was able to keep it from getting out of hand for the Huskies. He scored to make it 3-1, then scored again following Cavey’s second goal for a 4-2 score at the second intermission. Hunter Taplin put United back up by three within a minute of the third, but Griffin McLeod’s shot from center ice two minutes later made it a two-goal game once again. From there, United clamped down and scored twice in the final three minutes; Cavey getting his third, followed by the first high school goal from freshman Jack Kirschensteiner.
Following that in the second game of the evening, the Blades of Southwest Michigan took the 12th annual Rivalry Cup game over the Kalamazoo Eagles 4-3. The Eagles started ahead with two goals in the first five minutes, coming from David Kiel and Blake Jarrett. The Blades tied the game up by the break on scores from Evan Sampson and Alex Ploehn. The Eagles scored on the powerplay thanks to Zachary Blackwell early in the second, but Jaxon Dobrolowski used a shorthanded goal to tie the game up again.
It remained tied at 3-3 until 8:09 remained in the third when the Blades scored shorthanded again, this time from Dominic Buentello. The Blades kept the score at 4-3 from there despite a messy third period which saw ejections for two players from each squad. The win avenges a 1-0 loss to the Eagles from earlier in the year, putting the Blades at 15-7-1 overall and 3-4 in league play, good for fourth. The Eagles drop to fifth at 2-5-1 in league play and 7-11-1 overall.
League play resumes Wednesday at Wings West with Portage Northern hosting the Blades at 5:30, followed by the Eagles and Portage Central at 7:45. Next Saturday, Portage Northern hosts Lowell/Caledonia at 2:15, followed by the Eagles and Marysville at 4:30 and the Blades against United at 6:45. Meanwhile, Mattawan hits the road for two non-conference games over the weekend, against Cadillac Friday and Big Rapids Saturday.
Listen back to all three games from Saturday night below:
PORTAGE CENTRAL VS MATTAWAN
SWM BLADES VS KALAMAZOO EAGLES
KALAMAZOO UNITED VS PORTAGE NORTHERN