CLEVELAND — The opportunity was special.
The venue made it even better.
Nine Lorain County players got one more chance to lace up their skates Friday in the Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League all-star games at Quicken Loans Arena.
“It’s nice to play my last high school game at The Q, it’s a good experience,” said Avon’s Zach Zwierecki who broke the county record for goals this year with 67. “We had a great year — it would have been nice to win the Baron Cup and the SWC — but we had a great season and being here is a blessing.”
The GCHSHL changed things this year, following the NHL All-Star Game format by dividing the players into four teams for 4-on-4 games with a pair of 10-minute, running-clock halves. The switch made for quick action and a lot of playing time for everyone.
Zwierecki went out in style, leading the Black team to the championship. He had a goal in a 2-1 win over the Red team that had Eagles teammate Shane Docherty, Elyria Catholic defenseman Kyle Horvatich and Midview goalie Logan Perkins.
“It’s definitely fun to play at The Q,” said Perkins, who had 15 saves in two games. “We had an extraordinary year and exceeded everyone’s expectations going up into the Red Division and we played very, very well. I’m proud of all the guys on my team and I’ll truly miss them all.”
Zwierecki added a pair of scores in the 4-2 victory in the championship game against the Blue team, including the final goal with 46 seconds left in his high school career.
It was similar to his score against St. Ignatius in the state playoffs.
Teammate Leo Goetz was also on the Black team and provided the winning goal with 3:09 left.
“It was a fun game, but it wasn’t that competitive,” said Goetz, who had eight goals and 30 assists this year. “It was nice out there, we played well as a team. It was great playing one last game with all these seniors.”
The White team came out on the short end in both games, but Midview’s Jacob Scheetz and Amherst’s Jaret Mead appreciated the opportunity.
“We did a lot of unexpected things and I never thought I would be playing here this year,” said Mead, who led the Comets with 31 goals. “I had not skated in awhile and I didn’t think it would go this well.”
Avon Lake’s Alex Kelly and Trevor White played for the Blue team that pushed the Black team before falling in the championship game.
White assisted on a goal in a 2-1 win over the White team to open the night and added another assist on a Justin Malinak goal in the final game. North Olmsted’s Malinak was named the Monsters Star of the Game with three goals and an assist in two games.
Avon Lake’s Fran Sullivan was a coach for the Blue team, Midview’s Rick Verlotti was on the Red team bench, and the Black team had Avon’s Kyle Botos and Rick Montgomery from Elyria Catholic.
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Blue 3, White 2
FIRST HALF: (B) Shane Malinak, N. Olmsted (Lou Sugarman, Kenston), 9:43; (B) Sugarman (Trevor White, Avon Lake, Malinak), 3:41; (W) Kyle Sukenik, N. Olmsted (Ian Herrmann, Rocky River, River Whitnable, Rocky River), 1:34.
SECOND HALF: (B) Malinak (unassisted), 9:13, (W) Sukenik (unassisted), 6:29. Penalties: (B) Matt Detering (2:00 elbowing).
Team Blue 2 1 — 3
Team White 1 1 — 2
Shots on goal: Team Blue 11 (7-4), Team White 17 (5-12). Goalies: Team Blue: Trent Swain, Cleve Hts (5 shots, 4 saves); Bobby Zoul, NDCL (12 shots, 11 saves); Team White: Brooks Montgomery, CVCA (7 shots, 5 saves); Zach Snyder, Olmsted Falls (4 shots, 3 saves). Power-play opportunities: Team Blue 0-0, Team White 0-1.
Black 2, Red 1
FIRST HALF: (B) Zach Zwiereki, Avon (unassisted), 9:05; (B) Jaret Cipollone, NDCL (Tommy Mallak, Chagrin Falls), 2:48.
SECOND HALF: (R) CJ Natale, NDCL (Bryce Born, Strongsville), 3:18.
Team Black 2 0 — 2
Team Red 0 1 — 1
Shots on goal: Team Black 10 (6-4), Team Red 17 (9-8). Goalies: Team Black: Liam Siwik, Shaker (17 shots, 16 saves); Team Red: Logan Perkins, Midview (10 shots, 8 saves). Power-play opportunities: Team Black 0-0, Team Red 0-0.
Red 4, White 2
FIRST HALF: (R) Phil Kaderle, Kent (Daniel Ritts, Shaker, Wyatt Eisen, Shaker), 8:50; (R) Ritts (unassisted), 4:40.
SECOND HALF: (R) Seth Opladen, Canfield (Natale, Born), 6:28; (W) Ellis Langermeier, Westlake (Sukenik), 4:56; (W) Herrmann (Whitnable), 2:26; (R) Born (unassisted), EN, 1:12. Penalties: (W) Will Moyse, Olmsted Falls (2:00 holding).
Team White 0 2 — 2
Team Red 2 2 — 4
Shots on goal: Team White 7 (3-4), Team Red 19 (7-12). Goalies: Team White: Snyder (7 shots, 5 saves), Montgomery (12 shots, 10 saves); Team Red: Perkins (7 shots, 5 saves). Power-play opportunities: Team White 0-0, Team Red 0-1.
Black 4, Blue 2
FIRST HALF: (BK) Zwierecki (unassisted), 9:15; (BL) S. Malinak (Justin Malinak, N. Olmsted, White), 4:35; (BL) Matt Detering, Mentor (unassisted), 2:59; (BK) Noah Wiesblat, Cleveland Hts., Nick Moner, Benedictine, Hayden Dickerson, CVCA), 1:54.
SECOND HALF: (BK) Leo Goetz, Avon (unassisted), 3:09; (BK) Zwierecki (Weisblat), EN, 0:46.
Team Black 2 2 — 4
Team Blue 2 0 — 2
Shots on goal: Team Black 5 (3-2), Team Blue 13 (8-5). Goalies: Team Black: Siwik (13 shots, 11 saves); Team Blue: Swain (3 shots, 1 saves), Zoul (2 shots, 0 saves). Power-play opportunities: Team White 0-0, Team Black 0-0.