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.”
Pierce Cockrum, Brent Petrosky and Ty Vandeboncoeur each scored their first varsity goals, and Cockrum had two.
“(Cockrum) worked hard,” Rintala said. “He forechecked hard, went to the net hard twice and got rebounds. That’s the kind of goals we’ve got to score. We don’t score a lot of goals, so I was happy to see us not trying to dangle too much and try to go around guys. Just getting the point back to the point, shooting the puck and looking for rebounds. That’s how we’re going to have success against other teams.”
West — which had a 44-8 advantage in shots on goal — was up 3-0 after one period on goals by Cockrum, Vadeboncoeur and Jeff Linenger.
Petrosky scored the Titans’ only second-period goal off a Gavin Garmhausen assist.
In the third, the Titans’ Jake Saxton (twice), Cockrum and Ryan Roehler lit the lamp.
Other assists for the night went to Saxton, Caleb Breithaupt (two), John Linenger (two), Vadeboncoeur, Jeff Linenger, Jacob Benker (two) and Erik Anton.
“(West is) a good hockey team,” Long said. “They take advantage every time you make a mistake. We’re not capable of playing three periods with that few kids. But I’m proud of our kids.”
Ethan Odell made 38 saves for the Devils (1-8-1, 0-2-1 BNC). The Titans’ Brendan Lacharite had eight stops.