TRAVERSE CITY — Gaylord had almost as many coaches (five) as healthy skaters (nine).
After wearing down the Blue Devils with four lines, Traverse City West scored four times in the third period to enact the mercy rule with 4:36 remaining in an 8-0 victory.
“They play hard,” West coach Jeremy Rintala said of Gaylord. “They started with a short roster as it is, and I saw they had a couple guys out on crutches. I give a lot of credit to those kids for playing as hard as they did. Obviously, by the third period, we’re rolling four lines and they’ve got nine guys. They’re going to get tired — and they did. But they did a good job of eliminating a lot of chances in the first couple periods.”
Gaylord normally has 14 players, including two goaltenders.
“We’ve had no issue with effort all year,” Blue Devils third-year coach Mark Long said. “The kids have had every sort of adversity. They keep overcoming it. We know who we are and what we are, but they come out and play hard every period. That’s all we can ask for.”
The Devils used three defensemen — including forward Blake Miller, who was moved back after the injuries — and six forwards. That gave Gaylord two forward lines against West’s four.
Defenders Josh Delaney and Jack Ryan are among the four out with injuries. Backup goalie Alexander Young is also out.
“When we went to Gaylord, we didn’t handle it very well,” Rintala said. “It was 4-1, but 1-1 halfway through the third period. Our guys were trying to be too individual. I liked that we moved the puck better (Wednesday) and had better results.
“It was good for some of our younger guys to get some good experience and regular shifts.”