KENTWOOD – Sole possession of first place in Tier 1 was on the line Saturday when East Kentwood hosted Kenowa Hills and the show the two league-leaders put on was worthy of a championship showdown. In a game that went back and forth, the host Falcons held on to defeat Kenowa Hills 4-3 to take sole possession of the league lead with four games remaining.
“It was a great game between two good teams,” East Kentwood coach Todd Bell said. “Kenowa has a very good team and Zac Totten and Everett Thompson are two of the best players in West Michigan. They are unbelievable competitors and I feel bad for them but I’m glad for my guys. This was a big game and they played great.”
East Kentwood took the upper hand late in the first period on a goal by Chris Laux who deflected a shot from the point. The Falcons goal came despite being outshot by the Knights who carried the game to Kentwood for the bulk of the opening period. Kentwood goalkeeper Zack Casavant came up with a number of big saves to keep the Knights from getting the early lead.
“He made some huge saves,” Bell said, “some huge saves in the first period to keep the game close.”
Kenowa broke the ice in the second period when Matt Neal scored a power-play goal a minute into the period.
The two teams then traded goals in a 40-second span as Tyler Layle scored for the Falcons and Neal tied the game at 2-2 for the Knights at 11:24.
Kenowa surged ahead with 9:59 remaining in the period when Dan Hankins scored a power-play goal.
The goals continued to come at a furious pace as Trent Bravata tied the game for the Falcons with a goal at the 5:58 mark of the period. Kentwood then scored what proved to be the game-winning goal with 2:44 remaining in the second period when Bravata scored off an assist from Adam Goudelock.
Kenowa was unable to tie the game in the final period as fatigue may have stepped in as the Knights were coming off a 4-2 win against rival West Catholic the night before.
“You know, we thought it (fatigue) was going to be a factor but it wasn’t,” Kenowa Hills coach Wayne Skislak said. “I thought we came out ready to play. I thought the guys came and played their hearts out. They played well. I thought that was probably the best game they played all year.”
With the win, East Kentwood improved to 7-1 in the league. The Knights have another key league game on the schedule next Wednesday against Forest Hills Central.
With the loss Kenowa fell to 6-2 in the league.