ROCKY RIVER — American high school students have been accused of being mathematically challenged, but there’s some arithmetic most prep hockey players know: Twenty is greater than 10.
That was the story Thursday night as Elyria Catholic, skating with only 10 players, lost 7-0 to Rocky River, which had 20 players in uniform, in the first game of the West Shore Conference tournament at Hamilton Arena.
“We’re banged up,” EC coach Rick Montgomery said. “We’re sick. It all struck us about a week ago. Our goalie played tonight, but he won’t be in school (today). When guys came over to the bench they would be gagging. We never know from one day to the next how many players we’ll have.”
It didn’t help that EC (8-7) played Wednesday night (a dramatic victory over Kent Roosevelt in which only nine Panthers dressed for the game) or that the Panthers had trouble staying out of the penalty box in the second period, when defending conference champion Rocky River (16-3-1) scored five times.
The Panthers, who have only 12 players when healthy, were called for five penalties in a stretch of 22 minutes. Four of those calls went against leading scorer Stephen Donat.
“We’ve been cutting back on what we do in practice, just to keep them healthy,” Montgomery said. “We’re going to keep grinding away. We’ll work on our power play and our penalty killing and our backchecking. We can’t afford to run them into the ground. We have a tough day on Saturday.”
The Panthers play two tournament games Saturday — at 9:15 in the morning against Avon and a 4:15 p.m. game against Lakewood.
EC skated well in the first period, holding the Pirates to one early goal. Jeremy Ng had EC’s best opportunity to score, on a breakaway with 9:34 to go, but goalie Jake Nicholson made a terrific stop on Ng’s slap shot from the left side.
“I thought we did some good things,” Montgomery said. “We had a strong performance from our goalie (Luke Farmer) again. We had a plan on defense, a 1-3-1 with lots of backchecking, and that had them frustrated in the first period. We had several opportunities, but we just didn’t make the most of those opportunities.”
The roof fell in for the Panthers in the second as Rocky River scored a power-play goal 20 seconds into the period, then added two more goals before two minutes had run off the clock.
The Pirates put in another power-play goal and had a shorthanded goal before the end of the period.
The WSC tournament continues tonight with Midview and Avon meeting for the fourth time. Game time is 5:15.
Rocky River 7, Elyria Catholic 0
FIRST PERIOD: 1. RR, Cam Heider (Jack Mallett), 2:53. Penalties — RR, Brandon DeLano (roughing), 6:54; EC, Stephen Donat (tripping), 10:06; EC, Jack Walter (charging), 14:02.
SECOND PERIOD: 2. RR, Matt Lowry (Bobby Perez, Tom Robenalt), :20; 3. RR, Eric Sperli (Logan Drell, DeLano), 1:18; 4. RR, DeLano (Sperkli, Drell), 1:50; 5. RR, DeLano (Perez), 11:13; 6. RR, Sperli (Perez, Jake Nicholson), 13:26. Penalties — RR, Michael Ittu (hooking), 4:02; EC, Donat (interference), 7:28; EC, Donat (elbowing), 9:49; RR, Mallett (slashing), 11:29; RR, Brock Riemenschneider (holding), 11:49; RR, Drell (interference), 14:49; EC, Donat (unsportsmanklike conduct), 14:49.
THIRD PERIOD: 7. RR, Kyle Kopecheck (Perez, Tommy Garibaldi), 1:08. Penalties — RR, Mallett (tripping), 3:13; RR, Sperli (slashing), 8:48.
Elyria Catholic 0 0 0 – 0
Rocky River 1 5 1 – 7
Shots on goal — Elyria Catholic 16, Rocky River 35. Goalies — EC, Luke Farmer (25 shots, 28 saves); RR, Jake Nicholson (16 shots, 16 saves). Power-play opportunities — Elyria Catholic 0-6, Rocky River 2-4.
Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.