NORTH OLMSTED — Westlake played like the top seed it was … but Brecksville was not going down without a fight.
The Demons jumped out to a three-goal lead in the second period, then held on to win their first Southwestern Conference hockey tournament title with a 5-3 win over the Bees.
Andrew Marincic pulled Brecksville within a goal at 4-3 with a power-play goal early in the third period, but Westlake’s defense stiffened and the Bees, despite a few golden opportunities, could not net the equalizer.
Rudy Keppler scored the final goal of the game after Brecksville had pulled goalie Eric Bolon in favor of another attacker.
“Brecksville played a great game,” Demons coach John Duke said. “They kept on fighting and kept on coming back. They got it to 4-3 and our guys stayed with it. We were able to get that empty-netter in and seal the deal. It was a great effort.”
The Bees (11-14) got on the board first when junior forward Jake Kivett skated through the Westlake defense and beat Demons goalie Joe Guay to the short side at the 5:58 mark.
Westlake answered as Nathan Greenberg beat Bolon to the stick side from in front of the net. Greensberg’s goal came while Westlake (15-6) was skating with an extra attacker due to a delayed five-minute major penalty call on Jordan Powell.
Brecksville was able to kill the penalty — allowing just four shots on the power play — before it was ended on an interference call against the Demons’ Adam Sandor.
In the second period things started to unravel for the Bees.
Early in the period, Kivett was whistled for a head contact penalty. The whistle sounded and both teams stopped play … everyone but Westlake’s Alex Miller, who found himself all alone with the puck in front of the Brecksville goal, and he flicked the puck past Bolon.
The officials counted the goal as well as putting Kivett in the box.
Brecksville coach Lou Grandinetti tried to get an explanation from the officials, but none was forthcoming.
“They didn’t even acknowledge my existence,” Grandinetti said. “I just wanted to know why, if the goal was allowed, they were putting him in the box. Everyone had stopped playing.”
The OHSAA follows USA Hockey guidelines and rules. The rulebook appears contradictory. Situation Nine under the penalties category states: “During a delayed penalty signal to Team A, Team B scores a goal. The signaled penalty is recorded but not served.”
Elsewhere, in Section 402, it states, “When both teams are at equal on-ice numerical strength, no penalty can expire as the result of a goal.”
Brecksville, later in the period, had two minor penalties to two different players to give the Demons a full two-minute power play.
Chris Humer would capitalize with a power-play goal on an assist from Greenberg. Paul Freedman gave Westlake a 4-1 lead with 1:44 left in the second on a goal assisted by Miller.
Demons captain Rudy Keppler was pleased with how his team kept its composure.
“Every game is a struggle and we try to keep our heads,” Keppler said. “This time we fought through it and kept our heads and it turned out good for us.”
Kivett cut the lead to 4-2 with a goal in the last 30 seconds of the second, and Miller gave Brecksville a gift with a roughing penalty that carried over a full two minutes into the third.
Marincic cut the Westlake lead to a goal, but the Bees could not score again. They had a pair of chances on a wide-open Westlake net, but could not finish the play.
“We’re a team that plays start to finish and we don’t give up,” Grandinetti said. “This was another game that showed a good example of that. The pucks just didn’t bounce our way. We had our opportunities in the third period to tie the game, but it just wasn’t rolling in the net for us.”
The Demons won the faceoff battle 29-20.
“That helped a lot,” Keppler said. “Winning the faceoff gives you a huge advantage from the start so it’s always good to take control right away.”
In the WSC consolation game, Olmsted Falls defeated North Olmsted, 4-0.
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Westlake 5, Brecksville 3
FIRST PERIOD: (W) Jake Kivett (unassisted), 5:58; (W) Nathan Greenberg (Chris Humer), 6:17. Penalties: (B) Jordan Powell (hit from behind), 6:17; (W) Adam Sandor (Interference), 9:30.
SECOND PERIOD: (W) Alex Miller (Rudy Keppler), 3:11; (W) Humer (Paul Freedman), power play, 4:14; (W) Freedman (Miller), 12:16; (B) Kivett (Josh McGroarty), 14:30. Penalties: (B) Kivett (head contact), 3:11; (B) Kivett (roughing), 4:25; (B) CJ Schwertle (cross-checking), 4:25; (W) Ellis Langermeier (kneeing), 11:03; (W) Alex Miller (roughing), 15:00.
THIRD PERIOD: (B) Andrew Marincic (Eric Stucky/James Bell), power play, 1:25; (W) Keppler (Miller), empty net, 14:47. Penalties: (B) McGroarty (interference), 11:46.
Brecksville 1 1 1 — 3
Westlake 1 3 1 — 5
Shots on goal: Brecksville 20 (6-7-7), Westlake 49 (14-19-16). Goalies: (B) Eric Bolon (48 shots, 44 saves), (W) Joe Guay (20 shots, 16 saves). Power-play opportunities: Brecksville, 1-3; Westlake, 1-4.