A big crowd witnessed the return of high school hockey to Gladwin last week. The Bay Area Thunder, a unified team comprised of players from Gladwin High School, Essexville Garber, Bay City John Glenn and Pinconning, hosted the Tawas Braves at the Gladwin Community Arena last Wednesday night. Local players included Jackson Raymond, Levi Myers, Gavin Reid and Trenton Reid. Raymond serves as the captain for the Thunder; Myers is one of the assistant captains. All four Gladwin players got the start for the Thunder with Trenton Reid in goal.
After a scoreless first period both teams started to get their offense on track in the second. Michael Beauch got the Thunder on the board first when he took a pass from Trey Bultnick near center ice and broke in all alone of the Tawas goalie for the score five minutes into the period. Trevor Balagna from Tawas tied the score less than two minutes later, but the Thunder answered immediately with an unassisted goal from defenseman Jacob Stark to put the Thunder back in the lead 2-1. Two Tawas goals late in the period gave them a 3-2 lead at the break.
The Thunder came out on fire in the third period scoring three straight goals to take the lead. Beauch scored his second of the game with an assist from Blaise Miller at 15:58. Defenseman Klint Kanthe put the Thunder up 4-3 with a slap shot from the blue line and Raymond scored to make it 5-3 with 6:20 left in the game. Beauch picked up his third point of the game when he assisted on Raymond’s goal.
With time winding down the Braves began to throw the puck at the net, which eventually paid off. Devin Grathoff scored with 3:30 left in the contest and Sawyer Ulman tied it up 16 seconds later when his shot ricocheted into the Thunder net to tie the score. After a scoreless overtime the teams were forced to settle with a 5-5 tie.
Though the game ended in a tie the night had to be considered a success. The large crowd, including lots of younger players in their jerseys was treated to a clean, hard fought game. With only five penalties, and nothing that resembled a cheap shot the players represented their respective communities well. The crowd was loud and appreciative. As a former hockey coach it makes me hope that high school hockey will return to Gladwin on a regular basis sometime soon.