NORTH OLMSTED — The blizzard outside was nerve-wracking enough. The one inside made things mighty tense for the Avon Holiday Tournament hosts.
Avon survived a storm of penalties and managed to hang on to beat Olmsted Falls 4-3 on Wednesday. The Eagles drew 13 penalties and gave Olmsted Falls 11 power-play opportunities.
“I won’t criticize the officiating, but we did take too many penalties,” Avon coach Nick Novakovic said. “We can’t play shorthanded like that. We’re fortunate to come out of this game with a victory.”
The victory evened Avon’s record at 8-8. The Eagles have won both games of the tournament after beating Bay 4-0 earlier Wednesday. Olmsted Falls (1-14) lost both tournament games.
“I liked that we battled through penalties,” Novakovic said. “We only gave up the one goal when it was five-on-four. Our penalty kill has been good all year and it saved us tonight.”
The Bulldogs made good on two power plays, one of which was a five-on-three advantage.
“It was a little of both,” said Eric Novakovic when asked whether the plethora of penalties (20 total) were because of overly aggressive play or quick whistles by the officials.
“Things got a little chippy at the end (three unsportsmanlike conducts, including a four-minute minor), but when we started to pile up the penalties in the second period we laid off. (We) didn’t have as many in the third.”
The ones the Eagles did have nearly cost them. Olmsted Falls scored 15 seconds after a penalty with 3:23 to play gave the Bulldogs an advantage. A head contact call against Avon with 1:21 to go appeared to have given Olmsted Falls the break it needed to tie the score.
The break was squandered when Olmsted Falls got charged with an unsportsmanlike conduct only three seconds after gaining the advantage. The Bulldogs had several excellent chances to score late — two shots struck the pipes and rebounded to the other side of the goalmouth — but could not manage an equalizer against Avon goalie Erik DeChant.
“Our penalty killing is solid and our goalies (DeChant and Joe Sefchik) have been holding it for us,” Eric Novakovic said. “Goalkeeping did it for us again.”
Novakovic scored three of Avon’s goals, including a goal 32 seconds after the Bulldogs had forged a 2-2 tie and a shorthanded one 30 seconds after that as he picked up a loose puck in front of the Eagles’ net and skated nearly the length of the ice before launching a wrist shot that sailed by Olmsted Falls goalie Chris Polcar.
Hayden McDougald had the other Avon goal, which he scored just 33 seconds into the game. The Eagles killed two penalties before making the score 2-0 with 4:03 left in the first period. Olmsted Falls came back with a goal 18 seconds later.
The Avon Holiday Tournament is in its second year and the Eagles are looking to repeat as champions.
Avon faces Lakewood this morning at 10 o’clock at the North Olmsted Recreation Center. Bay and Olmsted Falls meet at 2:45 p.m.
Avon 4, Olmsted Falls 3
FIRST PERIOD: 1. A, Hayden McDougald (Neal Novotny, Eric Novakovic), :33; 2. A, Novakovic (Novotny), 10:57; 1. OF, Jake Norman (unassisted), 11:15. Penalties — A, Nick Stevens (cross-checking), 2:08; A, Novakovic (elbowing), 5:50; OF, Jeremy Polcar (tripping), 10:37, A, Braeden Friss (tripping), 12:06.
SECOND PERIOD: 2. OF, Zack Sadowski (J. Polcar, Joey Egan), 9:26; 3. A, Novakovic (Friss), 9:58; 4. A, Novakovic (unassisted), 10:28. Penalties — A, Pat Baeder (cross-checking), :49; OF, Steve Wilks (slashing), 4:35; A, Christian Hieronymous (holding), 8:48; A, Joe Goetz (tripping), 9:17; OF, Wilks (holding), 9:36; A, McDougald (tripping), 10:11; A, Friss (boarding), 11:21; A, McDougald (tripping), 14:05.
THIRD PERIOD: 3. OF, Norman (Wilks), 11:52. Penalties — OF, Norman (roughing), :24; A, Baeder (roughing), :24; Novotny (tripping), 11:37; A, Novotny (head contact), 13:39; OF, Hunter Bradford (unsportsmanlike conduct), 13:39; A, Stevens (unsportsmanlike conduct), 13:39; OF, Norman (unsportsmanlike conduct), 13:42.
Olmsted Falls 1 1 1 — 3
Avon 2 2 0 — 4
Shots on goal — Olmsted Falls 8-9-11—28, Avon 6-9-4—19. Goalies – (OF) Chris Polcar (19 shots, 15 saves); (A) Erik DeChant (28 shots, 25 saves). Power-play opportunities — Olmsted Falls 2 of 11, Avon 1 of 3.
Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or email@example.com.