After waiting seventeen days since its last game, the FNV Griffins H.S. hockey team had to shake off some early rust before rolling to a 4-1 victory over the Bay Area Thunder at the Bay County Civic Arena tonight.
The Griffins had not played since a Jan. 14, loss to Manistee H.S. (7-6) however, FNV head coach Ronnie Miller was quite happy with his team's performance tonight, improving to 10-8 on the season.
“I thought we controlled the play for a lot of the game, especially after seventeen days off and trying to find ways to keep the guys entertained over those two and a half weeks,” Miller said. “Coming off of winning eight of our last ten, it took a little bit to get going but overall it was a good effort and I was pleased with how we played.”
FNV Junior Kenny Kujawa put the Griffins on the board midway thorough the first period after taking a nice feed from Sean Nowosatka (Jr.) in the slot to beat Bay Area Senior goal tender Visili Ionnidis for a 1-0 lead at 6:51 of the first period. Sophomore John Paul LeFevre added an assist on the goal as well.
The Griffins appeared to have wasted a great power play opportunity when Bay Area defenseman Ryan Kwiatkowski (Sr.) was called for a 2-minute hooking penalty late in the second period, only to yield a shorthanded unassisted goal to Thunder forward Chandler Martin (Sr.) who tied the game at 1-goal apiece at 16:19 of the period.
However, just 36-seconds later, the Griffins managed to salvage the remainder of the power play when Sophomore Jack Ruppel scored -what proved to be the game winner- at 16:19 of the second period with an assist from LeFevre to take a 2-1 lead into the second intermission.
Kujawa scored his second goal of the night when he redirected a blue line shot from defenseman Ricky Koester (Sr.) to give the Griffins a 3-1 lead at 3:49 of the third period.
LeFevre would round out the scoring on another nice feed from Nowosatka at 7:37 of the third period.
Miller was very happy with his Senior goal tender Eric Gaudreau who was stellar, turning away 18 of the 19 shots he would face in net for the Griffins tonight, which was impressive considering the amount of down-time as FNV controlled the majority of offensive action tonight.
“He made the saves when he had to and he gave us a chance to win the game,” Miller said of Gaudreau. “It's got to be tough as a goalie, not seeing the quality of shots and scoring chances when we were on offense for most of the game.”
Gaudreau's counterpart, Ionnidis, was equally impressive with a 40-plus save performance, stopping 45 of the 49 shots he saw tonight.
The Griffins will return to action to host the Alliance Lakers H.S. hockey team for a 7 pm face off at Saginaw Bay Ice Arena Saturday night before heading to Midland to take on a very tough Midland H.S. Chemics hockey team on Wednesday evening.