ROCKY RIVER — Avon Lake, out of the Blue Division of the Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League, jumped up a couple of weight classes in a non-league game at Hamilton Ice Arena on Tuesday night against Red Division foe North Olmsted.
The Shoremen went toe-to-toe with the Eagles for more than two periods before North Olmsted scored three times in the final 6:16 to pull out a 7-4 win a little more than two weeks ahead of the Southwestern Conference tournament where the two teams could meet again at the North Olmsted Recreation Center.
“We were sloppy and you can’t do that against a Red Division team,” Avon Lake coach Fran Sullivan said. “We were running three full lines and we looked like the tired team tonight. It’s inexcusable. We are over moral victories at this point of the season.”
The Shoremen (14-5) had the upper hand after the first 15 minutes of play, taking a 3-2 lead into the first intermission.
Goals from Luke Farthing at 11:15 and Nick Ospelt at 3:06 had Avon Lake up 2-1, offsetting an unassisted goal by Travis Vitaz, who went end-to-end to score.
It looked as though the Eagles (8-4) would go into the first break tied 2-2 after Cameron Wandrie scored with 26 seconds left, but Avon Lake’s Patrick Graney scored just 11 seconds later off a Connor Koncelik assist.
Eagles goalie Ryan Godin
(43 saves) rarely gives up three goals in a week, so three scores by Avon Lake was just the start the Shoremen needed.
“They have some guys that are really quick and seem to play well as a team,” North Olmsted’s first-year coach Ben Palacko said of the Shoremen. “I told the guys after that first period that we had to play straight because we aren’t going to get any odd-man rushes against them.”
The second period wasn’t a great one for the Shoremen as Riley Vertosnik skated untouched through most of the Avon Lake defense to tie it at 3-3 at 13:19, and then the Eagles went up by a goal at 4:25 on a Shawn Donovan score, with Travis Vitaz and Jake Hirz getting assists.
The Shoremen spent most of the second period killing off five penalties, but managed to stay tied going into the third period when Tommy Kacmarcik picked off a bad North Olmsted pass at center-ice and skated in to score shorthanded with 2:16 remaining.
Penalties finally caught up with Avon Lake when Jake Hirz knocked the puck past Shoremen goalie Dillon Aslaksen (34 saves) after a Vertosnik shot from the point for a 5-4 lead with 6:16 left in regulation.
Donovan added an insurance goal after picking off a bad Shoremen pass and Vetosnik scored an empty-net shorthanded goal with 15 seconds left to complete the scoring.
“Red, White or Purple Division, we can hang with that team, but we were sloppy and made a lot of mistakes and they capitalized,” Sullivan said. “We were having problems that we shouldn’t be having at this point of the year.
“We had some quality shots against their goalie but anything at the bottom of the net he is going to take it away. We had some good shots at the top of the net, but Godin made some big saves that could have made a difference game.”
Contact James Brady at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Olmsted 7, Avon Lake 4
FIRST PERIOD: (AL) Luke Farthing (unassisted), 11:25, (NO) Travis Vitaz (unassisted), 5:30, (AL) Nick Ospelt (Tomm Kacmarcik), 3:06, (NO) Cameron Wandrie (Ryan Godin, Jake Hirz), 0:26, (AL) Patrick Graney (Connor Koncelik), 0:15. Penalties: (NO) Riley Vertosnik (2:00 holding), 8:55, (NO) Vertosnik (2:00 delay of game).
SECOND PERIOD: (NO) Vertosnik (unassisted), 13:19, (NO) Shawn Donovan (Vitaz, Hirz), 4:25, (AL) Kacmarcik (unassisted), SH, 2:16. Penalties (AL) Koncelik (2:00 interference, (AL) Jared Aslaksen (2:00 hooking), 4:02, (AL) Kacmarcik (2:00 tripping), 1:54, (AL) Aslaksen (2:00 high sticking), 0:31, (AL) Graney (2:00 cross-check), 0:00, (NO) Hirz (2:00 cross-check), 0:00.
THIRD PERIOD: (NO) Hirz (Vertosnik), PP, 6:16, (NO) Donovan (Hirz), 2:44, (NO) Vertosnik (unassisted), SH, 0:15. Penalties: (NO) Justin Christ (2:00 high-sticking), 9:35. Penalties: (AL) Aslaksen (2:00 interference), 6:25, (NO) Cameron Sukenik (2:00 tripping, 5:38, (NO) Jake Mlady (2:00 hooking), 2:04.
North Olmsted 2 2 3 - 7
Avon Lake 3 1 0 - 4
Shots on goal: North Olmsted 41 (8-20-13), Avon Lake 47 (17-14-16). Goalies: North Olmsted: Ryan Godin (47 shots, 43 saves), Avon Lake: Dillon Aslaksen (41 shots, 34 saves). Power-play opportunities: North Olmsted 1-4, Avon Lake 0-5.