CLEVELAND — Avon obviously enjoyed the experience of skating on the ice at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday afternoon. The 10-0 loss they hung on Elyria Catholic attests to that.
But maybe part of the reason for the Eagles’ win was that they didn’t enjoy the experience too much.
“I told the kids to look around when they get out there, but when the game starts there is ice under your skates, boards all the way around and go play the game,” Avon coach Nick Novakovic said. “Elyria Catholic came out to play, but they have a couple guys hurt and they are undermanned right now.”
Avon spread the wealth on offense with five players registering three points apiece in the lopsided Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League White West Division game.
“We did a good job of passing the puck, getting shots on goal and tipping in some shots,” said Avon freshman forward Alex Provenza, who had a pair of goals and an assist. “My first goal was kind of a fluke going in from behind the net.”
Provenza’s score gave Avon a 3-0 lead with 3:06 left in the first period after sophomore forward Nick Stevens scored the first two off a rebound on the right wing and a sweet redirect from in front of the net at the 5:34 mark.
Avon was superior in keeping the puck in their offensive zone as evidenced by the 23-1 advantage in shots-on-goal in the opening period.
The Eagles (7-2-1, 2-1) built their lead to 5-0 on goals by Provenza on a redirect and an unassisted goal by Neal Novotny (two assists) before Elyria Catholic (0-4, 0-3) had its first real opportunity to score.
David Kukucka picked up the puck at the blue and was able to skate and spin his way through three Eagle defenders before ripping a shot that was stopped by Avon’s Joe Sefchik.
Sefchik stopped all seven shots he faced in the first two periods before giving way to Erik DeChant, who completed the shutout with three saves in the third period.
The final goal of the second period was set up by a unique penalty when Kukucka was called for throwing his stick, which is an automatic penalty shot.
Eric Novakovic took the penalty shot and went top shelf with a backhand after a fake to the left for his 12th goal of the year with 3:53 left in the second period.
“That’s my first penalty shot I’ve taken in seven or eight years,” Novakovic said. “We work on them a little in practice in case we have to go to a shootout, but it’s certainly been a while since I did that in a game.”
Novakovic completed a hat trick in the third period, scoring the final two goals of the game to induce the 10-goal mercy rule.
Braeden Friss (two assists) scored the first goal of the final period and Guzik added the second on a breakaway on an assist from goalie Erik DeChant. It was DeChant’s second assist of the year from goal.
Elyria Catholic coach Rick Montgomery took the loss in stride.
“Most of the youngsters haven’t played any hockey and they are thrown into, hands down, playing in a division over our head,” Montgomery said. “They aren’t going to learn much right now, but you can work with them and work with them, but they just don’t have the experience to be playing in this division.”
Contact James Brady at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Avon 10, Elyria Catholic 0
FIRST PERIOD: (A) Nick Stevens (Shane Docerty, Pat Baeder), (A) Stevens (Alex Guzik, Docherty), 5:34, (A) Alex Provenza (Neal Novotny, Darren Carter). Penalties — (EC) David Kukucka (broken stick), 10:54, (A) Christian Hieronymus (interference), 0:59.
SECOND PERIOD: (A) Provenza (Brian Fielding, Baeder), (A) Novotny (unassisted), (A) Eric Novakovic (penalty shot), 3:53. Penalties — (A) Guzik (boarding), 14:28, (EC) Kukucka (cross-check), 10:15, (A) Braeden Friss (roughing), 10:15, (EC) Marty Conroy (roughing), 5:48, (A) Provenza (roughing), 5:48, (EC) Kukucka (throwing stick), 3:53.
THIRD PERIOD: (A) Friss (Provenza), 14:42, (A) Guzik (Erik DeChant), 13:36, (A) Novakovic (Novotny, Friss), (A) Novakovic (Stevens, Friss), 3:20. Penalties — (A) Dominic Bowlin (slashing), 8:56, (A) Hieronymous (roughing), 6:34, (A) Bowlin (charging), 5:26.
Elyria Catholic 0 0 0 — 0
Avon 3 3 4 — 10
Shots on goal: Elyria Catholic 10 (1-6-3), Avon 55 (23-19-13). Goalies: (EC) Luke Farmer (55 shots, 45 saves), (A) Joe Sefchik (7 shots, 7 saves), Erik DeChant (3 shots, 3 saves). Power-play opportunities: Elyria Catholic 5-0, Avon 1-0.