GRAYLING -- Last year, the two teams finished in a tie both times they met during the regular season in the Lake Michigan Conference, so both coaches expected Tuesday night's 2020 season opener in the LMC to be close.

And the two teams did not disappoint, only this time there was a winner. Unfortunately for the Vikings, it was the Ramblers who emerged victorious in a 2-1 victory at Vikings Field.

The Vikings came into the match with only 12 players, and eventually wore down in the second half as coach Andy Moore pretty much anticipated under the circumstances.

"We knew it would be a tight game," Moore said. "We knew they (the Ramblers) were fast, and we tried to prepare for that. It was a good, tight first half.

"Both teams scored in the half, and as we started the second half we knew that the next goal might be the game-winner. It was just a crazy bounce. We made a couple big saves on that play. The ball just took a bad bounce right on to the foot of Boyne City."

Although there was still 16 minutes left in regulation after the Rambler goal made it 2-1, the Vikings just couldn't find the energy they needed down the stretch to pressure the Boyne City goal.

Still, it was an evenly matched contest that either team could have won. It just so happened to be Boyne City this time. Grayling will get another chance at the Ramblers later this season.

Cameron Ketchum scored the Vikings' only goal unassisted on a scramble inside the 18. Eliot Boik was trying to set Ketchum up. The ball bounced off a couple defenders and off the goal right to Ketchum, and he buried a shot into the back of the net.

Grayling had its chances early in the second half, but the Ramblers' goalie stepped up big and rejected each attempt to leave the Vikings empty handed and frustrated.

The Vikings eventually tired, and spent the last five minutes of the contest in full scramble mode trying to shed the Rambler defense and put a shot on the Boyne City net.

Logan Cobb kept the Vikings in the game with another sparkling performance in goal, finishing the match with six saves.

"We're starting to get players back, and we'll probably get one more back tomorrow night," Moore said. "It's just progress. It's going to happen. It's getting there."

Grayling hosts Cheboygan at 5 p.m. tonight.


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