Published in The Chagrin Valley Times
December 12, 2013
By Tony Lange
It’s difficult to win a hockey game with 11 penalties that immobilize skaters in the box for 22 minutes of a 45-minute contest, but, by golly, the Kenston hockey team was up to the task on Saturday night.
While the host Bombers did render two power-play goals, they executed a two-man-down penalty kill when they needed it the most en route to a 6-3 triumph against league opponent Kent Roosevelt at The Pond Ice Arena in Auburn Township.
To compete in the Red South Division of the Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League, the Bombers knew they needed to be able to beat the Rough Riders, head coach Tom Beard said.
“We knew we had to play physically, but, unfortunately today, we played too physical at times, which kind of hurt us,” he said. “But we stood in there in the end when we were skating two players down.”
Up 4-3 with 2:50 left to play, Kenston was whistled for two penalties – cross-checking and tripping – and had to skate three-on-five against the Rough Riders for the next two minutes.
Potentially, Kent Roosevelt could score two power-play goals and take a 5-4 advantage during that time
But Kenston senior Alex Petre and juniors Jack Javorsky and Jason Kantra had other plans in mind as they stepped on the ice for the next two minutes, shielding any and all of the Rough Riders’ equalizer opportunities.
“We had a great goalie behind us, honestly,” Javorsky said, crediting Kenston sophomore keeper Kent Mack, who finished the game with 14 saves, including three or four monster rejections during that two-minute Rough Rider storm.
“Our goalie saved our ass on that,” Javorsky said. “He had a great save on the backdoor. And it was just a great three-on-five by us. I couldn’t ask for anything more. I was very proud to be out there and secure the win with those guys.”
Moments after Kenston killed the two-player penalty, the Rough Riders pulled their goalie from the net as they still trailed, 4-3, with less than a minute to play.
Assisted by Mack’s outlet pass, Javorsky received the puck and slung a shot from his own territory straight down the middle of the pipes of an empty Kent Roosevelt net, providing the Bombers’ a 5-3 scoreboard advantage with 42 seconds remaining.
Not finished yet, Mack tallied his second assist of the game – not too common of an occurrence from a goalkeeper. Off the feed, Kenston sophomore defenseman Ryan Herpy drove in the final dagger, 6-3, with a shot that deflected off a Kent defender’s stick and through the legs of Rough Rider goalie Nate Grootegoed.
Outshooting their opponents, 31-17, Kenston was able to improve to 6-1-1, including a 2-0 mark in the Red South, while Kent fell to 4-2 with a 1-1 mark.
The victory was huge, because it just puts the Bombers that much closer to a coveted Baron Cup appearance after missing out last year, Petre said.
Petre scored the second goal of the game less than a minute into the second period for an early 2-0 lead.
“It was a great pass from Jason (Kantra) from behind the net to where I was out in front,” Petre said. “It was a great pass, and I just slammed it home in the five hole. This win was all about just staying strong and rotating bodies, because we were constantly skating a man or two down.”
Rotate bodies the Bombers did as five players accounted for seven assists and junior forward Sam Johnson was the only skater to score two goals – both on power plays.
The first goal of the game, Johnson followed up his own rebound after a shot on net by Herpy came his way. And then in the third period, Johnson struck again as he redirected Javorsky’s shot into the net for the Bombers’ 4-2 advantage at the point in the game.
“I mean, coach kept telling me to stay in the front and things will come,” Johnson said. “Sure enough, it came and really put a dagger in their heart. They didn’t know what to do. We were walking by after the first period, and their coach was flipping out in the locker room. It was a lot of fun. It was just a great game.”
Kenston sophomore Jonathan Wiegand also got on the scoreboard as he cleaned up the garbage off junior forward Cooper Nash’s shot that somehow spun through to the backdoor before Weigand hammered it home.
Sharing the puck wasn’t just a one-time deal for the Bombers, who also had 10 different goal scorers during an 11-1 triumph against Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy the previous night.
“It says we’re moving the puck well, we’re playing well, and we have a lot of depth,” coach Beard said. “Hopefully, we continue that throughout the year, because the more guys who can contribute the more successful we’ll be.”
Up next, Kenston will take on Solon at 7:50 p.m. Friday at Gilmour Academy.
The Comets are the only other undefeated team in the Red South, as they beat North Olmsted, 9-1, and Westlake, 5-3, over the weekend.