NORTH OLMSTED — Don’t pinch Elyria Catholic hockey coach Rick Montgomery, he’s not dreaming.
Yes, his Panthers gave up seven goals Sunday — and still won – but that pinch might just be the reason why they came out on top.
After a scoreless first period, Elyria Catholic exploded for six goals in the second period en route to posting a 9-7 Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League White West Division win over Westlake at the North Olmsted Recreation Center.
“We knew that they pinched a lot on defense and that we might have some opportunities to score,” Montgomery said after EC improved to 4-2, 2-1 in league play. “We just had to do a better job defensively after scoring. It’s a cardinal sin to give up the score on the first shift after scoring.”
Both teams took turns breaking that cardinal rule in the final two periods. Elyria Catholic jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening three minutes of the second period as senior Steve Donat and freshman William Gentry scored just over one minute apart.
Westlake answered less than two minutes later as Paul Freedman scored on a redirected shot and Nabil Johnson found the net on a Demon power-play to even the score at 2 with 10:40 left in the period.
Not only did Westlake (2-4, 0-3) give up a goal on the next shift after tying the game, the Panthers scored the next four goals in less than five minutes to put the Demons in a huge hole the rest of the afternoon.
Anthony Sudano started the four-goal spree when he chopped the puck off the stick of a Westlake player out by the blue line and it found its way past Demon goalie Joe Guay, who is playing hockey for the first time after being a lacrosse goalie.
David Kukucka scored 45 seconds later, Gentry put in his second goal a mere 25 seconds after that and Jeremy Ng finished the run off a Donat assist on the power-play with 5:43 to go in the second period to make it 6-2 EC
Demons football quarterback Kent Axcell proved he also knows how to score on the ice when he netted a short-handed goal and put back a rebound off a Connor Fife shot to finish off a 10-goal period and trim the lead to 6-4 going into the third.
Both teams were back on the ice just 18 hours after playing league games.
“That second period was crazy,” Donat said. “We just kept passing and getting shots on net liked the coach wanted and the puck just kept going in the net. Colin (Lester) really had some great passes in that period to set us up.”
Lester had four assists on the day.
After the teams traded goals to open the final period, Donat scored on the power-play with 10:15 left for an 8-5 Panthers advantage.
The Demons cut to the lead to 8-7 with 1:02 left in the game on Axcell’s third goal of the game on the power-play as Westlake skated 6-on-4 after pulling its goalie.
But any thoughts of overtime were dashed 19 seconds later, on the very next shift, when Gentry knocked home his hat-trick goal off an Anthony Sudano assist.
“We just didn’t do a very good job of shutting them down on the shift after we scored,” said Gentry, who now has six goals on the season. “It was hard coming back out after playing the night before. We just had to keep pushing hard.”
Elyria Catholic 9, Westlake 7
FIRST PERIOD: None. Penalties – (W) Neal Johnson (tripping) 14:14, (EC) Colin Lester (interference) 0:51.
SECOND PERIOD: (EC) Steve Donat (Lester, Jack Walter), 13:40; (EC) William Gentry (Jeremy Ng, Anthony Sudano), 12:22; (W) Paul Freedman (Rudy Keppler, Ben Thurstone) PP 12:02, W Nabil Johnson (Freedman) 10:40, EC Sudano (unassisted) 9:31, David Kukucka (Lester, Ryan Saunders) 8:46, EC Gentry (Ng, Jack Walter), 8:19; (EC) Ng (Donat), PP 5:43; (W) Kent Axcell (Keppler), 5:19; (W) Axcell (Connor Fife), SH 2:04. Penalties – (EC) Donat (Highstick), 11:54; (W) Freedman (Holding), 7:45; (W) Johnson (interference), 5:45; (W) Freedman (head contact), 5:30.
THIRD PERIOD: (EC) Sudano (Ng, Lester), 11:23; (W) Keppler (unassisted), SH 10:38; (EC) Donat (Lester), PP 10:15; (W) Keppler (Nate Greenberg, Thurstone) 2:01; (W) Axcell (Thurstone), PP 1:02; (EC) Gentry (Sudano), 0:43. Penalties – (W) Brendan Teets (Tripping), 11:10,; (EC) Saunders (unsportsmanlike), 7:50 (W) Keppler (roughing), 6:59; (W) Axcell (interference), 3:56; (EC) Donat (elbowing), 2:08.
Elyria Catholic 0 6 3 — 9
Westlake 0 3 4 — 7
Shots on goal: Elyria Catholic 26 (6-10-10), Westlake 32 (8-12-12). Goalies: (EC) Luke Farmer (32 shots, 25 saves), (W) Joe Guay (26 shots, 17 saves). Power-play opportunities: Elyria Catholic 2-6, Westlake 2-4.
Contact James Brady at firstname.lastname@example.org.