By JAMES COOK email@example.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — After a 16-day layoff, Cadillac was trying to get its hockey legs back under it.
That didn’t take long.
The Vikings scored twice in the first period and held on for a 3-0 non-conference victory over the Bay Reps at Centre ICE.
“We were trying to wipe the cobwebs off,” said Cadillac coach Scott Graham, whose team hadn’t played since a 3-1 win over Big Rapids in the Winter Hockey Festival.
The Reps (3-7) hadn’t played for just six days, but couldn’t get the offense cranked up. That’s been the case much of the season, as the squad has mustered only 14 goals in 10 contests.
“That’s not enough, obviously,” Reps coach Todd Spaulding said. “It’s a tough way to play. Every time you go out, you know you can’t allow many goals. We’ve got to really change a few things on the offensive side and hopefully we can get a few bounces.”
Cadillac went up 2-0 on goals by Spencer Graham and Ryan Morse. Levi Rowan and Patrick Briggs set up Graham’s score, his 12th of the season.
The game wouldn’t see another lamp lit until 2:50 remained and Blake Ford finished off a 2-on-3 rush by splitting two defenders and redirecting a Brett Farley pass. Morse also drew an assist.
All three Viking goals came on rushes instead of offensive-zone plays.
“We tried to focus our energy on speed up and down the rink in the transitional game,” Graham said. “Things were tight, both in our offensive and defensive zone. It was a physical game and tight in both zones. There wasn’t a lot of flow in the neutral zone. It was either in one zone or the other zone.”
Cadillac senior Connor Kassuba made 24 saves for the shutout, while Jay Jones stopped 16 shots fired his way.
The Vikings (7-1-1, 1-0-1 Big North Conference) return to league play Wednesday, traveling to TC West at Howe Arena. Cadillac hasn’t lost a game away from the Wexford Count Civic Center, going 2-0-1 in road contests.
“A lot’s going to start shaking out in January when the bulk of the BNC schedule unfolds,” Graham said.
The Vikings’ Dec. 20 game at Gaylord was postponed by weather and rescheduled for Feb. 5.
The Reps can take solace in the fact that their defense was solid against a team that came in averaging over five goals a game and is ranked No. 11 in Division 3. They also outshot the Vikings 24-19.
“We did pretty good in that aspect,” Spaulding said. “We’re pretty happy defensively. Our forwards in the defensive zone, pretty happy with that. We’re trying to get (the forwards) to do some little stuff — go to the net, screens and deflections, the dirty stuff.”
The schedule doesn’t get much easier for the Reps, who started a stretch of playing five games in eight days and host Grandville (7-3-1) today at 1:30 p.m.
After that, the Reps travel Wednesday to Alpena for a rescheduled contest and head to Petoskey and Tri Valley (Midland) next weekend.
“We’ve purposely tried to make our schedule as tough as possible to help us improve,” Spaulding said. “And I think it will. Three and seven now, which is getting to them a little bit — which is a good sign.”