May 25, 2016

Mostly cloudy

High school hockey: Westlake’s power play pays off big

Avon’s Pat Baeder, right, applies defensive pressure to Westlake’s Chris Humer on Sunday. LINDA MUPRHY/CHRONICLE

Avon’s Pat Baeder, right, applies defensive pressure to Westlake’s Chris Humer on Sunday. LINDA MUPRHY/CHRONICLE

ROCKY RIVER — Avon ran out of power Sunday night against Westlake in a 5-2 loss in a non-conference game at the Hamilton Ice Arena.

The Eagles have done well killing off over 70 percent of power plays this year, but the Demons scored four power-play goals with four different players the man-advantage to lead the Red Division team over Avon from the White Division.

“The power play was the biggest difference in the game,” said Eagles (12-3-1) coach Nick Novakovic, whose team had gone 9-0-1 in the last 10 played. “We’ve been doing a great job on the penalty-killing all year long and it came back to bite us tonight.

“They (Westlake) outplayed us all game long and it didn’t help when we kept putting ourselves in the penalty box.”

Senior Nabil Johnson scored first with 7:00 left in the first period at even-strength on assists from Rudy Keppler and Nathan Greenburg.

Avon knotted the score at 1-1 89 seconds later when Eric Novakovic sent a bullet pass from the right wing across the goal to Joe Goetz who beat Demons goalie Joe Guay with 5:31 left in the period.

That’s when Westlake’s (8-6) power-play went to work scoring the next four goals of the game for a 5-1 through two periods of play.

Paul Freedman gave the Demons a 2-1 lead scoring one minute after Christian Hieronymous was called for boarding in the first period.

An Avon tripping penalty led to Johnson’s second goal of the game when he jammed the puck in the net from the end line after Rudy Keppler’s initial shot was turned away by the Eagles Joe Sefchik.

“We’ve been working hard on our power-play,” Johnson said. “We tried to put a lot of pressure on them (Avon) and it paid off.”

The next two Demon power-play goals took no time at all as Chris Humer scored just 23 seconds after a holding call on Nick Stevens and Alex Miller beat that scoring four seconds following a slashing call with just six seconds left in the second period.

“We just didn’t do well on our own power-plays,” Novakovic said about his team not scoring on six man-advantage chances of their own. “We took some penalties during the power-play, to turn it into a four-on-four, and then we would be down a man. We just never got set up in their zone very well.”

The Eagles’ chances were limited most of the evening as Westlake held a 40-15 advantage in shots on goal for the game.

Avon finally cracked the Demon defense for a second time when Chronicle-Telegram Player of the Week, Nick Stevens, scored at the 11:16 mark of the third period from the point to cut the lead to 5-2 for the final score of the evening.

“Winning special teams (penalty-kill and power-play) like that is especially nice,” said Demons coach John Duke. “It’s really a big advantage to be able to do that and we moved the puck really well when we were on the power-play.

“We’ve been pretty good at killing off the power-play, but we can always get better as the season moves along.”

Westlake will be back in Red Division play on Thursday afternoon at 3:15 at North Olmsted. The Eagles play Twinsburg the same day at 7:15 in Garfield Heights.

Contact James Brady at 329-7135 or

Westlake 5, Avon 2

FIRST PERIOD: (W) Nabil Johnson (Rudy Keppler, Alex Miller), 7:00, (A) Joe Goetz (Eric Novakovic), 5:31, (W) Paul Freedman (Nathan Greenburg), PP, 2:33. Penalties: (A) Christian Hieronymus (boarding), 3:33.

SECOND PERIOD: (W) Johnson (Keppler), 12:21, (W) Chris Humer (Johnson, Greenburg), 2:43. Penalties: (W) Miller (interference, 14:30, (A) Novakovic (tripping), 13:30, (W) Freedman (interference), 7:20, (W) Keppler (interference), 5:10.

THIRD PERIOD: (A) Stevens (Pat Baeder), 11:16. Penalties: (A) Stevens (hooking), 13:49, (W) Brendan Teets (roughing), 10:28, (A) Goetz (roughing), 8:55, (A) Neal Novotny (head contact), 6:06, (W) Freedman (interference), 5:12, (W) Johnson (roughing), 2:20.

Avon 1 0 1 – 2

Westlake 2 3 0 – 5

Shots on goal: Westlake 40 (17-15-8), Avon 15 (6-5-4). Goalies: Westlake: Joe Guay (15 shots, 13 saves); Avon: Joe Sefchik (40 shots, 35 saves). Power-play opportunities: Westlake 5-4, Avon 6-0.