June 28, 2016

Mostly cloudy

High school hockey: Rocky River’s first-period flurry sinks Middies

ROCKY RIVER — Who knew you could get washed away on the ice?

Midview stayed with Red Division Rocky River on Saturday night in the West Shore Conference tournament before losing by a goal, but in Monday’s championship game the Middies were swamped by a maroon-and-white wave as the Pirates scored six first-period goals en route to an 8-2 win at the Hamilton Ice Arena.

“I think playing the game against them (Midview) the other night was a bit of a shock for us,” said Rocky River forward Eric Sperli, who had a hat trick in the first period Monday. “Before the game the coach told us to get ready to hit because they have a short bench.

“Playing in the Blue (Division) we figured they wouldn’t be used to a lot of bodies coming at them and hitting them.”

The Red Division is the top division in the Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League, followed by the White and the Blue divisions.

The Pirates (21-5-1) came out checking Midview (19-7) all over the ice and it paid dividends as the Pirates opened a 6-0 first-period lead.

P.J. Sperli gave the Middies a taste of what to expect when he came from behind the net and wrapped the puck around the post to give Rocky River a 1-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.

Kyle Kopecheck added a goal on a wrist-shot for a 2-0 lead, but the Middies settled in against the numerous lines of players coming from the Pirates bench and held them scoreless for the next five minutes.

Rocky River had 18 skaters versus nine for Midview.

Midway through the period, the Middies’ Austin Steindl was crossing the red line when he was sent skate-over-head by yet another check from the Pirates.

The hitting finally wore down the Middies and the Pirates responded with four goals over the final 5:58, with Sperli scoring three times to give him 47 goals on the season.

Sperli scored on a rebounded save from Jared Meredith at 5:58 and Bobby Perez scored 49 seconds later off a face-off in the Middies’ end for a 4-0 lead.

Sperli added two more goals in the final 3:35 with the second coming short-handed with eight seconds left.
“They (Pirates) came in and showed why they are one of the top teams in the state,” Middies coach Rick Verlotti said. “You can certainly see your deficiencies when you play a team like that.

“You can learn a lot about yourself and you can see where you need to improve when you play a team as good as that.”

Despite falling behind 8-0 in the second period, Midview never let up and finally broke through when Manny Ceja beat goalie Jake Nicholson with four seconds left in the second period.

Midview added its final score in the third period when K.C. Kudela slapped home a rebound off a Brock Behler shot from the left wing with 8:40 left in the game.

“They certainly have a lot more bodies, but we gave it our all and played with a lot of heart today,” Kudela said. “They gave it to us pretty good in the beginning and had enough bodies to keep us down.”

Rocky River 8, Midview 2

FIRST PERIOD: (RR) P.J. Sperli (Tom Robenalt), 12:46, (RR) Kyle Kopecheck (Bobby Perez, Tom Garibaldi), 11:27, (RR) Eric Sperli (Brandon DeLano), 5:58, (RR) Bobby Perez (unassisted), 5:09, (RR) E. Sperli (DeLano, Matt Forlini), 3:35, E. Sperli (P. Sperli, Matt Lowry) SH, 1:20. Penalties — (RR) Lowry (holding), 4:16, (M) Brad Urig (head contact), 4:16.

SECOND PERIOD: (RR) Lowry (Perez), 7:00, (RR) De Lano (J.R. Schiau), (M) Manny Ceja (Austin Steindl, Brock Behler), 0:04. Penalties — (RR) Cam Heider (high-stick), 11:55, (RR) Jack Mallett (hooking), 6:00.

THIRD PERIOD: (M) K.C. Kudela (Brock Behler), 8:40. Penalties: (RR) Kopecheck (boarding), 7:30. Penalties — (RR) Kopecheck (boarding), 7:30, (RR) Logan Drell (roughing), 2:19, (M) Brad Urig (roughing), 2:19, (M) Kudela (boarding), 1:10.

Rocky River 6 2 0 – 8

Midview 0 1 1 – 2

Shots on goal: Rocky River 29 (14-8-7), Midview 17 (5-7-5); Goalies: (RR) Jake Nicholson (12 shots, 11 saves), Ryan Kostelnik (5 shots, 4 saves); (M) Jared Meredith (29 shots, 21 saves); Power-play opportunities: Rocky River 0-1, Midview 0-3.

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