A a large crowd witnessed the return of high school hockey to Gladwin last week. The Bay Area Thunder, a unified team of players from Gladwin High School, Essexville Garber, Bay City John Glenn and Pinconning, hosted the Tawas Braves at Gladwin Community Arena last Wednesday night. Local players included Jackson Raymond, Levi Myers, Gavin Reid and Trenton Reid. Raymond is the captain of the Thunder; Myers is one of the assistant captains. All four Gladwin players started for the Thunder with Trenton Reid in the goal.
After a scoreless first period, both teams started to put their offense on track in the second. Michael Beauch first put the Thunder on the board when he caught a pass from Trey Bultnick near the center of the ice and managed to break the Tawas goalie on his own for the score five minutes into the game. period. Tawas’ Trevor Balagna tied the game less than two minutes later, but the Thunder responded immediately with an unassisted goal from defenseman Jacob Stark to put the Thunder back in the lead 2-1. Two goals from Tawas 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 3:58 PM. Defender Klint Kanthe gave the Thunder a 4-3 lead with a slap shot from the blue line and Raymond scored to make it 5-3 with 6:20 remaining at the end of the game. Beauch had his third point of the game when he assisted on Raymond’s goal.
Over time, the Braves started throwing the puck into the net, which eventually paid off. Devin Grathoff scored with 3:30 left and Sawyer Ulman equalized 16 seconds later as his shot ricocheted through the Thunder’s net to tie the score. After a scoreless extra time, the teams were forced to settle for a 5-5 draw.
Although the game ended in a tie, the evening had to be considered a success. The large crowd, including many young players in their jerseys, enjoyed a clean and tough game. With just five penalties and nothing resembling a low blow, the players have represented their respective communities well. The crowd was loud and grateful. As a former hockey coach, it gives me hope that high school hockey will return regularly to Gladwin very soon.