September 1, 2014

Elyria
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High school hockey: Avon dominates but has to settle for an unsatisfying tie after Normandy comes up with late goal

Avon’s Neal Novotny brings the puck down the ice with pressure from Normandy’s Mike Machalak in the second period Sunday afternoon at Serpentini Arena in Lakewood. ANNA NORRIS/CHRONICLE

LAKEWOOD — Avon’s 2-2 tie with Normandy definitely left the Eagles in a bad mood Sunday at Serpentini Arena.

But who could blame them? The Eagles definitely looked like they had a win before having to settle for a tie.

The Eagles wasted a 37-6 shot advantage against senior goalie John Schmook. Meanwhile, the Invaders had only three shots on goal over the final two periods. Unfortunately for Avon, two found the net.

The tie left Avon at 6-2-1 and Normandy at 4-5-1.

Senior Jake Kerlin scored the equalizer for Normandy on a rebound shot with just 92 seconds left in the third period.

“It’s a disappointing game,” said Avon’s Braeden Friss, a senior defenseman.

“A tie is a tie, but obviously you want to get the win in a game like that. We got some good shots on goal. Their goalie got some key saves. He didn’t give up a lot of rebounds. He did a pretty good job of containing the puck. Wish we could have put one more in on the power play.”

Avon defeated Normandy 7-1 with Schmook in goal on Dec. 1 at the Bruce Anderson Tournament. The Eagles were coming off an 8-0 win over Aurora on Friday and a 4-2 win over Lakewood on Saturday. The Invaders had just lost 7-1 to Parma on Saturday night.

“We’re going to go in and watch film on Monday on the game and see what we need to work on,” Friss said. “We’ve got to look for better shots. We’re getting a good amount of quantity but we have to work on quality.”

Normandy called a timeout with 1:50 left after Avon was called for a high-stick zone infraction, which brought the face-off down to the Eagles’ end.

“He (Kerlan) got a good rebound,” Avon coach Nick Novakovic said. “There was absolutely nobody on that guy. He found a good spot to shoot and he did. They had two good goals, both to the upper-right corner.”

The tie was a bit unsettling in more ways than one for the Eagles.

Normandy had only a 2-22 record record last year in the Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League’s White West. Avon was 15-17 in the Blue West. The two switched divisions this year, Avon moving up to the White West and Normandy dropping down to the Blue West.

“It was a good game, no doubt about it,” Novakovic said. “You have to give their kids credit. They came out this afternoon ready to play. We weren’t quite as ready. I hope that we were. That was our third game in three days. There are no excuses for any of that. You got the one-goal and face-off in your own zone. You don’t win it. A couple guys missed responsibility and (Normandy) put in the back of the net. It bites you every time.”

Also disconcerting for Avon was not being able to solve Schmook, who is only a second-year hockey player. He joined the Normandy team as a junior with no prior hockey experience after he was cut from the junior varsity basketball team.

Sophomore Mike Machalak had Normandy’s other goal, scoring on a breakaway in the second period less than two minutes after senior forward Eric Novakovic gave Avon a 1-0 lead. It was the Invaders’ only shot on goal in the second period.

“Things broke down and they were good shots,” Avon junior goalie Erik DeChant said. “It’s very disappointing. I expected to beat that team.”

Senior forward Alex Guzik put Avon back in front 2-1 on a power play with 17 seconds left in the second period. Machalak was serving a five-minute major plus a 10-minute misconduct for checking from behind.

Unfortunately for Avon, it couldn’t capitalize despite another three minutes, 11 seconds of power play on the Machalak penalty.

“We pulled some of our forwards back, some of our better skaters, and let them play defense to try to keep the score down,” said veteran Normandy coach Jim Jackson, who is in his 24th season. “When you put three skaters on defense they (the Eagles) get a lot of shots, but most of them aren’t quality. They’re from the outside. You have to clear it out right away so there are no second-chance opportunities. You just have to sit there and weather the storm.

“They’re a better team than us. They’re deeper than us. They’re faster than us. Today it worked out. Schmook was solid. It doesn’t work out unless that kid is tough in net.”

Contact Paul Heyse at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.

Avon 2, Normandy 2

FIRST PERIOD: Penalties — (N) Jordan Fristchen (tripping), 2:17. (A) Dominic Bowlin (interference), 11:17.
SECOND PERIOD: 1. (A) Eric Novakovic (Christian Hieronymus), 2:35. 1. (N) Mike Machalak (Pete Organic, Alex Schirripa), 4:34. 2. (A) Alex Guzik (unassisted), 14:43 – power play. Penalties — (N) Machalak (check from behind), 12:54, 5-minute major. (N) Machalak (unsportsmanlike conduct), 12:54, 0-minute misconduct.
THIRD PERIOD: 2. (N) Jake Kerlin (Tom Suryak), 13:28.

Normandy 0 1 1 — 2
Avon 0 2 0 — 2

Shots on goals: Normandy 6 (3-1-2). Avon 37 (14-8-15). Goalies: (N) John Schmook (37 shots, 35 saves). (A) Erik DeChant (6 shots, 4 saves). Power play opportunities: Normandy 0-1. Avon 1-2.