Varsity hockey falls in both games during opening weekend


The FHC Hockey Team opened their season with two games, two straight days at Patterson Ice Center. On Friday, they hosted Bay City for their home opener, and on Saturday, they “traveled” to FHNE’s home rink, still at Patterson. They were both hard-fought games but FHC failed to come out on top.

The student section was colossal for the first true hockey game of the season, overwhelming their given spot behind the boards. For two of the three periods, the Rangers had the advantage of their section being behind Bay City’s net, giving our attackers an extra morale boost when going for the net. Unfortunately, it was the defense that needed the extra help, giving up too many goals on the opposite side.

Bay City scored three goals on the night, all before FHC scored even once. The Rangers’ defense didn’t please their goalie, senior Justin Baehr, as they left him out to dry way too many times, leading to three Bay City scores. Even though the puck went into his net three times, Justin still played a great game, making many saves throughout the night; including a clutch save off of a one-on-one penalty shot. As the Bay City player skated his way toward Justin with no one in his way. Baehr kept his cool, focused on the puck, and stopped it from reaching the nylon.

Baehr’s save had a cumulative effect, hyping up his players right away. Mostly affected was senior Anthony Ott, who also received a penalty shot not long after regular play resumed. The difference this time was that Ott’s penalty shot forced the scoreboard operator to add a “1” on the Ranger side of the scoreboard. Anthony didn’t quit there, putting the puck in Bay City’s net once again in the third period after creating a breakaway for himself, and capitalizing. Anthony single-handedly brought his team back into the game as they neared the end, making the score 3-2.

After pulling Baehr off the ice to add an attacker, FHC gave themself a 6 on 5 in Bay City’s territory, hoping to tie the game with little time left. FHC’s skaters created their own opportunities, but couldn’t get the puck past the goalie, losing the game. The final score was 4-2 for Bay City, as the open net strategy was taken advantage of.

After the loss, they had 21 hours to prepare for their game against the combined Forest Hills Northern/Eastern Birddogs. With it being their home opener, Northern and Eastern students packed their section, trying to counter the Ranger section that had just come from Portage Northern following the football team’s state semifinal victory. Both sections came out hoping for a great game, and that’s exactly what they were given.

It was a defense-dominated game the entire way, having a scoreless 1st period, and a one-point difference for most of the remaining minutes. FHNE’s aggressiveness paid off in the second period, as a beautiful centering pass with a flawless redirect put the puck behind Baehr, giving the Birddogs the lead. That never changed throughout the game as the Rangers were unable to score even though they created tons of opportunities. Both defenses were able to keep the puck away from the nylon until the Birddogs as well took advantage of our open net, as we were desperate to tie this game too.

The combined student section of FHNE was given all the excitement they hoped for as their team shut out their biggest rival. On the other end was a very upset hockey team that has all the potential to be winning these games, but can’t score the goals in the desperate moments. The player left heartbroken the most was the goaltender, Justin Baehr.

“We’re growing and eventually we will get to a winning position,” Justin explained. “We have to focus on being able to put the puck in the net. We’ve struggled with it in years prior as well, but it’ll come through. It just takes time to get there.”

Baehr was rightfully unhappy with the way the games played out. He was a brick wall that kept the puck out of the net in every expected save situation. What challenged him was the way his defense allowed uncontested shots from opposing forwards. The one on none chances are exponentially easier to take advantage of than if defenders are there to add pressure. That’s what was given to Bay City multiple times. The Ranger offense let fans down as well, not taking advantage of so many shot opportunities. As the season progresses, mistakes are going to be attacked during practices and they will become scarce as the players continue to work at improving their game.

The next home game is this coming Friday, November 25, as the Rangers take on Grand Haven High School at 3 pm. Their goal of ending the losing streak is bound to be achieved soon. The community will just have to be ready for FHC Hockey excellence to arise out of the slow start.