ELYRIA — Elyria Catholic shook off two weeks of rust and the frigid air of North Park Recreation to knock off Garfield Heights 4-2 Wednesday night in a Blue South Division game of the Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League.
The winning formula for the Panthers (2-6, 2-5) was simple — ride senior Drew Beck, who scored all four goals, and the hot goaltending of Kevin Hahn, who stopped 45-of-47 shots to avenge an earlier 5-4 loss to the Bulldogs.
“We really wanted to come back and beat these guys after we played so poorly at their place,” Hahn said. “We knew we had to come out and come hard and get after these guys after what they did to us last time.”
Neither team accomplished much in the first two periods. The score sat tied at 1-1 after Beck scored at 5:35 of the second period off a Riley Cunningham assist and Garfield Heights’ PJ Gibson scored 1:05 later.
The Bulldogs (2-4, 2-4), skating with only five players, outshot Elyria Catholic 25-17 through two periods and 47-34 for the night, but Hahn made numerous big stops, including several in the third period when Beck took over.
Sarah Fenik and Ryan Sustersic got the Panthers going in the final 15 minutes, winning control of the puck on the boards and getting it to Beck, who did the rest of the work for a 2-1 lead at 13:56 of the third.
“We usually start slow and are really ready to go by the third period,” Fenik said. “We were ready to really get after it in the third period and I’ve been more comfortable being aggressive, knowing Drew (Beck) has my back if something happens.”
Beck completed his hat trick by fighting for a loose puck at the red line and skating all the way in to beat Bulldogs goalie Kyle Bettliskey for a 3-1 advantage with 10:47 left in the third.
“We were missing a couple players today and I knew I had to play some defense, but I also had to make the most of my opportunities when I had them,” said Beck, who has 17 goals on the season. “Everyone really stepped up the best they could in that third period.”
Gibson got Garfield Heights within one at 3-2, scoring on a 3-on-1 rush with 3:26 left in regulation, but the Bulldogs couldn’t get any closer as Hahn turned away several point-blank attempts before the puck could be cleared to safety.
Beck finished off his one-period hat trick, scoring on the short side with 22 seconds left to cement the Panthers’ first win since Dec. 15.
“We had plenty of rust and we’re fighting bodies right now. We haven’t played a game all year with our whole team,” EC coach Rick Montgomery said. “We don’t have a lot of experience, so tonight the kids with experience like Drew (Beck) didn’t come off the ice and really stepped it up with four goals.
“Drew had a supporting cast in Kevin (Hahn) tonight and that’s what really pulled that game out for us.”
Contact James Brady at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Elyria Catholic 4, Garfield Heights 2
FIRST PERIOD: No scoring. Penalties: (GH) Austin Getz (2:00 tripping), 8:49, (GH) Dave Alachniewiwicz (2:00 tripping), 5:45 (EC) Ryan Sustersic (2:00 roughing), 4:18, (GH) Getz (2:00 tripping).
SECOND PERIOD: (EC) Drew Beck (Riley Cunningham), 5:35, (GH) PJ Gibson (Ricky Alachniewiwicz), 4:30. Penalties: Getz (2:00 tripping), 8:56.
THIRD PERIOD: (EC) Beck (Sustersic, Sarah Fenik), 13:56, (EC) Beck (unassisted), 10:47, (GH) Gibson (Getz, Jase Romen), 4:20, (EC) Beck (Cunningham), 0:22. Penalties: Getz (2:00 interference).
Garfield Heights 0 1 1 — 2
Elyria Catholic 0 1 3 — 4
Shots on goal: Garfield Heights 47 (10-15-21), Elyria Catholic 34 (8-9-17); Goalies: Garfield Heights, Kyle Bettliskey (34 shots, 30 saves), Elyria Catholic, Kevin Hahn (47 shots, 45 saves); Power-play opportunities: Garfield Heights 0-1, Elyria Catholic 0-5.