Grand Rapids Hockey vs Virginia/Mt Iron-Buhl Dec 2016
Grand Rapids Thunderhawks defeat Virginia 8 to 2 in seasons first home game. With 11 players involved in scoring, it was an all-around effort for the Grand Rapids boys hockey team in an 8-2 win over Virginia/Mountain Iron-Buhl Tuesday at the IRA Civic Center in Grand Rapids. Micah Miller and Blake McLaughlin each netted goals in the Thunderhawks home opener, while John Stampohar, Gavin Hain and McLaughlin had two assists apiece. Grand Rapids coach Trent Klatt said coming into the game the message was attacking the Blue Devils from start, not allowing them to stay in the game. And for the most part, that’s what the Thunderhawks were able to do. “I told the guys coming in (Virginia/MIB) has nothing to lose,” he said. “We can’t give them a chance to think they can get into the game. We needed to show them this is how we’re going to play the game.” Aside from the first period, where Grand Rapids allowed 12 shots on goal from the Blue Devils, Klatt said the team picked up its play, especially on the defensive end, the remainder of the game. "We gave up too many opportunities in the first," he said. “I thought we played better in the second and third periods.” Grand Rapids was able to take control of the game early as Miller fired a shot from outside the circle past Blue Devils goalie Taylor Greenwalt 33 seconds into play. The Thunderhawks continued to put pressure on Greenwalt the rest of way, outshooting the Blue Devils, 43-23. Midway through the first period, a flurry of three goals coming from the Thunderhawks’ Keaghan Graeber and Miller, along with Virginia/MIB’s Bo Zupetz, put Grand Rapids in front, 3-1. In the second period, the Thunderhawks had an early goal from Kam Jaeger and added scores from McLaughlin and Stampohar to lead 6-1. The Blue Devils’ Nathan Goldagelli cut the lead to 6-2 with a power play goal in final minute. Third period goals from Grand Rapids came from Connor Stefan and McLaughlin. Gabe Holum had 21 saves for the Thunderhawks and Greenwalt had 35. As the first month of the season concludes with this weekend’s home games against Roseau and Warroad, Klatt said the goal is to have the team as familiar with the systems through the first month as they were at the end of last season. “I look at the first month, which will end after this weekend, with practice time and our play, we want to reestablish our system and reestablish everything we worked on last year," he said. “We still have some younger players that we need to move along and bring everyone up to speed.” Through the first three games, Klatt said although the offense has been strong, the team’s defensive play is something he’s most pleased about. “I’m excited about the play of our defense,” he said. “There’s been a lot of attention given to our top end players and they’re playing up to the hype. But the critical things are how we play in our own end. “I like the way we’re playing right now.” Another factor with that defensive mindset is reducing the team’s goals against average from three, where it was last season, down two. Based on the first three games where the Thunderhawks have given up only four goals, they’re right on track. “Our goal coming into the season was to get our goals against average from three down to two,” Klatt said. “Based on the personnel we have and our coaching staff, we believe we can drop by one goal.” After Friday and Saturday’s games, Grand Rapids heads to the Edina Classic starting Thursday where they will have games against Edina, Eden Prairie and Elk River/Zimmerman. Grand Rapids 8, Virginia/MIB 2 V/MIB 1 1 0 - 2 GR 3 3 2 - 8 First period: 1, GR, Micah Miller (Blake McLaughlin, John Stampohar), :33; 2, GR, Keaghan Graeber (Connor Stefan, Kam Jaeger), 7:40; 3, V, Bo Zupetz (Cade Moreland), 8:16; 4, GR, Miller (McLaughlin, Gavin Hain), 8:37. Second period: 5, GR, Jaeger (Anthony DelGreco), 3:28; 6, GR, McLaughlin (Jack Bowman, Miller), pp 8:47; 7, GR, Stampohar (Evan Mischke), 10:51; 8, V, Nathan Goldagelli (Tony Chesser, Nick Peneo), pp 16:39. Third period: 9, GR, Stefan (Nano DeGuiseppi), :43; 10, GR, McLaughlin (Hain, Stampohar), 8:34. Saves: GR, Gabe Holum 21; V, Taylor Greenwalt 35.