By Ryan Kaczmarski
There was plenty of ice hockey action over the weekend as both the West Shore Conference and Southwestern Conference tournaments played out in Rocky River and North Olmsted, respectively.
In the second round of the SWC tourney on Saturday, North Olmsted battled back from a second period Westlake surge to defeat the Demons 6-3 and move on to the tournament finals.
North Olmsted went up 3-0 by the first intermission on a goal by freshman Michael Ceepo (assisted by Benjamin Henley), and two more by sophomore Shawn Elliott (both power play goals, the first unassisted and the second assisted by Evan Solomon). Westlake answered right back with three quick goals to tie the game early in the second period, the first by junior Kent Axcell (assisted by Adam Sandor), the second by junior Adam Fife (assisted by Rudy Keppler and Nate Greenberg) and the third by Axcell (assisted by Keppler).
The three goals came with less than three minutes coming off the clock, but the Eagles regrouped as senior Alexander Arendec put one past Westlake’s freshman goalkeeper, Joe Guay, to regain the lead (assisted by Brendon Kirk). North Olmsted would add goals by Henley (assisted by Nathan Schmitt) and Michael Shackleton (assisted by Henley) to cap the scoring at 6-3.
“I thought (Westlake) came out and moved the puck well and made some plays (in the second period),” North Olmsted head coach Tim Murphy said. “They came out and stuck it to us, tightening that lead up real quick. They had all the momentum, but we were able to get one right after that.”
The victory gives the Eagles a record of 9-9 overall, 4-4 in league play, which sits them in third place of the Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League (GCHSHL) White West division and a possible Baron Cup berth.
The loss gives the Demons an overall record of 11-9-1 (3-3 in the White West), but Westlake still holds on to the fourth and final spot in the division for a Baron Cup berth.
“Both teams played hard, we came back and showed some life, but the puck didn’t bounce our way today and that happens,” Westlake head coach John Duke said. “We, as a program, are progressing every year and getting more and more consistent every season.
“We’re competing with North Olmsted and Brecksville, and over the Christmas break with Solon. We had a good game against Hudson this year and we beat Kent, so these are all positive steps where we can compete at higher and higher levels.”
This is the first year Westlake has competed in the GCHSHL, and it has been a positive experience for both the team and the coaching staff.
“We’re doing all right,” Duke said. “We’re right there for a playoff spot, and we hope to close the deal and finish out with a couple more victories.”