The Southwest Michigan Blades topped Portage Northern 2-1 and Portage Central downed the Kalamazoo Eagles 6-4 Wednesday night at Wings West. Because of these two games, the Blades and Portage Central are guaranteed to finish in the top four of the Southwest Michigan High School Hockey League (SWMHSHL) standings, meaning they’ll be in the tournament semifinals in two weeks along with Kalamazoo United and Mattawan. Meanwhile, Portage Northern and the Eagles will finish in the bottom two and be relegated to consolation games.
The first game remained scoreless until 2:09 remained in the second period. Will Todd scored for the Huskies with an assist by Drew Fitzgerald and Tyler Simon. Portage Northern stayed ahead until 5:16 was left in the third period as a Jaxon Dobrolowski powerplay goal evened things up. Then with 58.9 left, Mason Fitch scored on a wrap-around for what would be the game winner. The Blades move to 16-7-1 overall and 4-4 in league play, good for fourth. They advance to the tournament semifinals for the first time in eight years. The Huskies fell to 5-15 and are at the bottom, 1-8 in league play.
In the second game, two quick goals in the first three minutes (William Anderson, Konnor McLeod) gave Portage Central a 2-0 lead after the first period. Max Mones made it a three goal game in the second, but a Blake Jarrett powerplay score put the Eagles back within two, 3-1, after two. Skyler Sorensen quickly made it a three goal game again, but David Kiel matched him 18 seconds later for the Eagles. But two minutes after that, with 12:10 remaining, McLeod pushed the Mustangs back up by three.
They would need the cushion as penalties, including a major for checking from behind, set up two Eagle powerplay goals. James Wressel and Zachary Blackwell put the score at 5-4 with 8:12 left in the game. However, the Mustangs were able to hold on from there, sealing the game in the final minute on an empty netter by Kobe Vincent. The win moves the Mustangs to 8-12 overall and 5-4 in league play, third best. The Eagles drop to 7-12-1 overall and 2-6-1 within league play.
These four teams will meet again, but in a different combination next Wednesday with the Eagles against the Huskies, and the Mustangs against the Blades. Before then, the Blades meet Kalamazoo United in league play Saturday. The other three have non-conference games ahead. Portage Central travels to Byron Center Friday, Portage Northern hosts Lowell/Caledonia Saturday, and the Eagles host Marysville Saturday.
Listen back to Wednesday’s games below:
SWM BLADES VS PORTAGE NORTHERN
PORTAGE CENTRAL VS KALAMAZOO EAGLES