October 21, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
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High school hockey: Avon starts fast, rolls past Avon Lake for first-ever league win

NORTH OLMSTED — Avon’s 9-2 win over Avon Lake on Sunday at the North Olmsted Rec doesn’t put the Eagles in a league by themselves.

But then, that’s sort of the point.

The Eagles, who played their first two seasons as an independent, took advantage of a Shoremen team missing four players to pick up their first win as a member of the Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League.

“It is nice to get some recognition and get that first league win,” said Hayden McDougald, who scored two first-period goals to get the Eagles rolling. “Getting that first goal (in a game) is really a mental thing because you can get the other team panicking a little and doing things they may not normally do.”

McDougald finished the day with four goals, but he was outdone by teammate Eric Novakovic, who scored five. Novakovic had quite the weekend, scoring four goals in a 9-6 loss to North Canton Hoover on Saturday.

“Our top line can skate really well and we played to our strengths tonight,” Eagles coach Nick Novakovic said after the Eagles improved to 5-1 overall and 1-1 in the league. “We got a couple goals early and that allowed us to continue playing some of the young kids plenty of minutes. We really need to do that at this early point of the season.”

Before the game, Avon Lake coach Scott Stimac talked about his team having to stay on the ice and out of the penalty box. Unfortunately for him, that didn’t happen and Avon scored opened the scoring on a power play with 12:04 left in the first period.

There were just seven seconds left on a two-minute slashing penalty when McDougald knocked home a backhand off a faceoff to the left of Avon Lake goalie Keegan Sullivan. McDougald then beat Sullivan going top-shelf from the point off assists by Brian Fielding and Joe Goetz to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead with 6:25 left on the clock.

Coach Novakovic actually was not happy with his team’s play in the first period and shared his displeasure at intermission. The Eagles promptly responded with a five-goal period to put the game away.

McDougald scored from the left wing just 1:42 into the second period on an assist from Nick Stevens to make the score 3-0.

Next came the Eric Novakovic show.

Novakovic went on a four-game flurry, scoring unassisted at the 11:41 mark, putting in a power-play goal at 9:25 and a short-handed goal with 7:20 remaining. Then, with 18 seconds left, Joe Goetz cleared the puck from behind the net right to Novakovic, who scored from the point.

“The talk from our coach between periods really grabbed our attention,” Eric Novakovic said. “He said we were not skating real hard in the first period and that we had to turn it up a little bit. We really skated much better in the second period.”

The Shoremen (0-2, 0-2) finally got on the board in the second period when Logan Cherni came out of the penalty box following a roughing call to pick up a loose puck at center ice.

Cherni raced down to the goal, stopped, spun left and knocked the puck past Erik DeChant. Cherni added another unassisted goal in the third period.

“Knowing we had a short bench, the kids skated hard end to end and gave it their all,” Stimac said. “We knew this was going to be an uphill battle the whole way and the final score of the game was not real pretty, but it was very positive for us going forward in the season.”

Avon 9, Avon Lake 2

FIRST PERIOD: (AV) Hayden McDougald (unassisted) 10:11 (PP), (AV) McDougald (Brian Fielding, Joe Goetz) 6:25. Penalties – (AL) Logan Cherni (slashing) 12:04; (AL) Christian Duerk (roughing) 3:15.

SECOND PERIOD: (AV) McDougald (Nick Stevens) 13:18, (AV) Eric Novakovic (unassisted) 11:41, (AV) Novakovic (Goetz, Fielding) 9:25 (PP), (AV) Novakovic (Pat Baeder) 7:20 (SH), (AL) Cherni (unassisted) 1:08, (AV) Novakovic (Goetz) 0:18. Penalties – (AL) Cherni (hooking) 10:13, (AV) Steven (tripping) 8:40, (AL) Cherni (roughing) 4:32.

THIRD PERIOD: (AV) Novakovic (Alex Guzik) 10:02, (AL) Cherni (unassisted) 9:36, (AV) McDougald (Christian Hieronymus) 0:15. Penalties – (AL) Jordan Herrera (tripping) 12:55, (AV) Zach Zamiska (interference) 7:50, (AV) Pat Baeder (interference) 5:23, (AV) Hieronymus (head contact) 4:24.

Avon Lake 0 1 1 – 2

Avon 2 5 2 - 9

Shots on goal: Avon Lake 6 (1-2-3), Avon 34 (13-12-9). Goalies: (AL) Keegan Sullivan (34 shots, 25 saves), (AV) Erik DeChant (6 shots, 4 saves). Power-play opportunities: Avon Lake 0-3, Avon 2-6.

Contact James Brady at 329-7135 or jbrady_ct@yahoo.com.