April 19, 2014

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High school hockey: Avon pulls away from North Olmsted with second-period flurry of goals

Avon's Neal Novotny moves the puck up the ice against North Olmsted's Shane Malinak in the first period Sunday afternoon at the North Olmsted Recreation Complex. ANNA NORRIS/CHRONICLE

Avon’s Neal Novotny moves the puck up the ice against North Olmsted’s Shane Malinak in the first period Sunday afternoon at the North Olmsted Recreation Complex. ANNA NORRIS/CHRONICLE

NORTH OLMSTED — In a game that lasts 45 minutes, it took Avon just 45 seconds to put away North Olmsted in a non-conference hockey matchup Sunday afternoon as Lorain County’s Eagles defeated Cuyahoga County’s Eagles 5-0 at the North Olmsted Recreation Center.

Avon (4-2) was nursing a 1-0 lead after Eric Novakovic scored just 11 seconds into the second period. Then Alex Guzik, Nick Stevens and Joe Goetz all scored in the span of 45 seconds to give Avon a 4-0 advantage.

“We really let the momentum work for us and we just kept on riding it in the second period,” Guzik said. “We wanted to get high-quality shots today and we were able to keep the puck in our zone to keep the pressure on North Olmsted.”

Lost in the offensive explosion was an outstanding defensive effort by Avon and an even better job by goalie Joe Sefchik, who registered his second shutout of the young season.

Making the shutout even more impressive was that North Olmsted had five power-play opportunities. In two of the man-advantage situations, North Olmsted (2-4) didn’t even get a shot on goal.

“I’m not sure that Joe had to stop too many shots from in close,” Avon coach Nick Novakovic said. “More of their chances came from outside and he had a good look at those.

“We did a great job on penalty killing. I don’t think they spent much time in our zone at all. We’re coaching them to get the puck in deep and start fore-checking to keep them in their own zone.”

Sefchik was equally impressed with the Avon defensive effort.

“We kept closing them out and they just couldn’t get into our zone,” the Avon goaltender said of North Olmsted. “We shut them down pretty good and my defense made it easy on me.”

Both teams spent quite a bit of time in the other’s zone in the first period, but neither team could find the net.

Avon wasted little time grabbing the lead in the second period, however, as Novakovic skated away from his defender at mid-ice and scored with 14:49 left in the second period, his shot bouncing off Chase Cullinan’s glove and into the net.

It stayed that way until the three-goal spree that started at the 10:03 mark. Guzik scored off assists by Novakovic and Dominic Bowlin, Stevens scored 33 seconds later and Goetz found the net just 12 seconds after that.

“We had our opportunities tonight and finished them instead of carrying the puck around like we did (Saturday),” Goetz said in reference to a loss against Western Reserve Academy. “We got into a rhythm and worked the puck around in their zone and capitalized.”

Goetz scored his second goal with 3:16 left.

“It’s become a recurring theme when it comes to our second periods,” North Olmsted coach T.J. Murray said. “For whatever reason, the first five minutes of the second period has been a problem for us all year.

“The players and the coaches will get this figured out and we’ll be OK this year.”

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

Avon 5, North Olmsted 0

FIRST PERIOD: Penalties— (A) Christian Hieronymous (hooking), 8:55, (NO) Ty Malinak (high stick), 8:55, (A) Nick Stevens (interference), 6:23, (A) Stevens (high stick), 3:04.
SECOND PERIOD: (A) Eric Novakovic (Joe Goetz), 14:49, (A) Alex Guzik (Novakovic, Dominic Bowlin), 10:03, (A) Stevens (Jarret Greene), 9:30, (A) Joe Goetz (Novakovic, Alex Provenza), 9:18. Penalties — (A) Bowlin (roughing), 12:54.
THIRD PERIOD: (A) Goetz (Novakovic, Provenza), 3:16. Penalties — (A) Guzik (hooking), 14:04, (A) Brian Fielding (interference), 8:04, (A) Fielding (roughing, 4:00), 5:00, (NO) Ty Malinak (roughing), 5:00, (NO) Shane Malinak (roughing), 5:00.

Avon 0 4 1 — 5
North Olmsted 0 0 0 — 0

Shots on goal: North Olmsted 18 (7-6-5), Avon 32 (11-9-12). Goalies: (NO) Chase Cullinan (32 shots, 27 saves), (A) Joe Sefchik (18 shots, 18 saves). Power-play opportunities: North Olmsted
5-0, Avon 0-0.