ELYRIA - Everything was looking up for Elyria Catholic heading into the third period of Wednesday`s non-divisional hockey game.
The Panthers held a 4-1 lead on Western Reserve Academy. They were playing relatively penalty-free, having given WRA only one power-play opportunity through 30 minutes.
The final period, however, was a nightmare for EC. Western Reserve scored five times in the third and departed North Park Rink with a 6-5 victory.
Three of the Pioneers` goals were on power plays. Their last two, with the teams at full strength, came in the game`s final 2:29. Still, it appeared as if Elyria Catholic (1-2-1) would salvage a tie when Richie Baker scored his second goal of the night with 26 seconds to play.
The Panthers` joy was short-lived as WRA (1-0) scored 10 seconds later. Andrew Swett scored off an assist by Garrett MacIntosh, his third assist of the game.
"That is what happens when you play one period of hockey and then become undisciplined," EC coach Dave Phiel said.
"We really struggled handling the puck, we had too many turnovers and we gave up three power-play goals."
The Pioneers took 17 shots in the third period to only four for EC. The Panthers went to the penalty box four times in the final 15 minutes.
"Give (Reserve) credit," Phiel said. "They skated hard and they beat us to the loose pucks. But if you have a 4-1 lead going into the third you have to be disciplined. You have to keep the puck deep. You have to play defense."
It appeared the Panthers were going to have an easy time when Baker scored a scant 24 seconds into the game on a breakaway after corralling a pass from Patrick DeSouza. Brent Zifcak scored at 12:55 left in the first period to give EC a 2-0 advantage.
Mike Freeh made it a 3-0 game with 6:13 left in the first. WRA got its first goal of the season with 1:28 remaining in the opening period.
The Pioneers went to the box four times in the second period - three times by Billy French - but EC could cash in only once. Chad Botos got the goal on assists by Chris Andrews and Sean Muir.
The comeback started when MacIntosh scored with Freeh serving a penalty. James Wolfsberger scored the first of his two goals 4:24 into the period, with DeSouza in the box. Wolfsberger made it a tie game 1:13 later as Matt Fielding was off the ice for a hooking penalty.
Alex Fredette`s goal gave WRA its first lead. The Panthers called a timeout after a face-off in the Pioneers` end, pulling out goalie Brad Moore, with 30 seconds left. Four seconds after the puck dropped Baker followed up a slap shot by Fielding with a rebound goal to make the score 5-5.
Reserve`s winning goal came with 16 seconds to go and three seconds after a face-off at the Panthers` end.
"This was like the Normandy game," said Phiel, referencing EC`s other loss this season. "I felt we had some momentum after Brecksville (a 2-2 tie), but we`re very young. We`re still looking for the right starting lineup."
Western ReserveÂ Â Â 1Â Â Â 0Â Â Â 5 - 6
Elyria CatholicÂ Â Â 3Â Â Â 1Â Â Â 1 - 5
FIRST PERIOD: 1. EC, Richie Baker (Pat DeSouza), :24; 2. EC, Brent Zifcak (Chad Botos), 2:05; 3. EC, Mike Freeh (Brad Kelley), 6:13; 1. WRA, Ben MacIntosh (Nathan Klein, Garrett MacIntosh), 13:32. Penalties â€“ WRA, Nathan Klein (interference), 4:52; EC, Richie Baker (interference), 8:27; WRA, Alex Fredette (hooking), 9:04; EC, Chad Botos (roughing), 14:47; WRA, Alex Fredette (roughing), 14:47.
SECOND PERIOD: 4. EC, Chad Botos (Chris Andrews, Sean Muir), 7:17. Penalties â€“ WRA, Billy French (highsticking), 4:26; WRA, Billy French (charging), 6:32; WRA, Billy French (tripping), 8:51; WRA, Ben MacIntosh (interference), 11:25.
THIRD PERIOD: 2. WRA, Garrett MacIntosh (Ben MacIntosh, Andrew Swett), 1:44; 3. WRA, Jim Wolfsberger (Bill French, Ben MacIntosh), 4:24; 4. WRA, Jim Wolfsberger (Ben MacIntosh), 5:39; 5. WRA, Alex Fredette (Garrett MacIntosh, Andrew Swett), 12:31; 5. EC, Richie Baker (Matt Fielding), 14:34; 6. WRA, Andrew Swett (Garrett MacIntosh), 14:44. Penalties â€“ EC, Mike Freeh (interference), :28; WRA, Jake Thompson (holding), 2:26; EC, Pat DeSouza (interference), 3:03; EC, Matt Fielding (hooking), 3:47; EC, Brad Moore (tripping), 9:31.
Shots on goal â€“ Western Reserve Academy 12-7-17 - 36, Elyria Catholic 13-7-4 - 24. Goalies â€“ WRA, Derek McKenna (24 shots, 19 saves); EC, Brad Moore (36 shots, 30 saves). Power-play opportunities â€“ Western Reserve Academy 3 of 5, Elyria Catholic 2 of 7.