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Grand Rapids Thunderhawks

Posted at: 01/22/2013 5:53 PM
Updated at: 12/10/2013 4:07 PM
By: Laura Kennedy
lkennedy@wdio.com

It was like a scene out of a movie. Hundreds of hockey fans gathering in Grand Rapids for a Saturday game. Except in this case, the wind and bitter cold joined in too.

"Skating up into the wind you feel like you're going full speed but you're not even moving," said Avery Peterson, Grand Rapids junior center. "That was definitely the worst part."

The Thunderhawks faced off against defending state champ Benilde St. Margaret's, the afternoon game to celebrate Hockey Day Minnesota.

"Great experience, fun, wind made it tough but I think both teams enjoyed themselves," said Bruce LaRoque, Grand Rapids head coach.

Grand Rapids and Benilde had to battle the wind and snow during their game on Saturday. In between periods they escaped to their makeshift locker rooms, which were warming tents behind the rink. The Red Knights took an early two goal lead, but Peterson says the Hawks didn't panic.

"We expected them to come out hot. That's what they did, they got two goals," Peterson said. "But when we came out in the second period and tied it up, going into the third period tied we knew we had a good chance of winning this game."

And win they did. In overtime, on a goal from senior wing Cody Mann. Grand Rapids captain Jake Bischoff knows his team fought hard and it paid off.

"Unbelievable. Just the whole day was incredible," Bischoff said. "Everything people did to put this day together is unbelievable. It's a day I'm never going to forget."

"It was exciting just to watch the kids celebrate at the end there after a long hard fought battle," LaRoque said.

LaRoque says earning a victory in such a challenging environment shows his team's character.

"Certainly that game could have gone either way, we recognize that," LaRoque said. "But just to keep battling, stay positive, it says a lot about our grit and determination."

And being the host team, the Thunderhawks got to celebrate with their fans.

"We've got crazy fans up here," Bischoff said. "You know they weren't going to miss it for the world."