By Jim Smith | special to the r-c
After falling behind 4-0, an impressive come-back attempt by the Kent Roosevelt ice hockey team fell short as the Rough Riders dropped their opening-round game in the CVCA Christmas Tournament 6-4 to Elyria Catholic on Wednesday morning at the Kent State University Ice Arena.
Elyria Catholic's Panthers skated to a 3-0 lead after one period of play on two goals by defenseman Colin Lester and a goal by David Kukucka.
While Lester's first goal was unassisted, Kukucka assisted on the second.
Lester returned the favor, along with Anthony Sudano, assisting on Kukucka's goal.
Within the opening 15 seconds of the second period, Sudano struck again for Elyria Catholic providing a 4-0 lead for the Panthers.
"We had a little fight in us; there was no panic there," said Roosevelt coach Ben Barlow. "We created some critical mistakes that cost us early on."
Kent's scoring rally, aided by a five-minute major penalty to Elyria Catholic, began at 12:16 of the middle period on the first of two Roosevelt power-play goals.
The Riders' Kyle Manning, assisted by Jake Schmauch, scored the first special-teams goal, followed up exactly four minutes later by a Scott Rainey Rough Rider goal.
Manning and Gabe Smith earned assists on Rainey's score.
With just over two minutes remaining in the second period, Smith netted the third consecutive goal for Kent, with Schmauch earning his second assist of the period. Christian Strahan also assisted on the Smith goal, narrowing the Panthers' lead to 4-3 with one period remaining.
Elyria Catholic regained a two-goal lead early in the third period when senior Steve Donat, with an assist from Paul Demer, extended the lead.
Roosevelt's Okko Boger, after receiving a notable pass from Manning, again brought the Riders to within a single goal with just under 10 minutes to play in regulation.
Roosevelt goaltender Jared Fischer received additional credit for assisting on Boger's score.
The Panthers' Lester scored his third goal of the game -- and the final Elyria Catholic score -- at 6:55 of the final period, with an assist attributed to Ryan Saunders.
Kent's Mitch Fisher scored on a power-play opportunity late in the third period to again close the gap to a single goal (6-5). But the Riders, utilizing an extra attacker in place of the goaltender for the remaining minute and a half of the contest, could not score again.
"We played hard to the end and unfortunately one or two breaks didn't go our way. We had some opportunities that we let go by the wayside," said Barlow.
Blue line notes
n The Rough Riders return to Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League play on Jan. 3 when they host White East Division foe Kenston at the KSU Ice Arena. Game time is 7:15 p.m.
n For hockey information, follow Jim Smith on Twitter @bluelinenotes or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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CVCA Christmas Tournament
Elyria Catholic 6, Kent Roosevelt 5
(At Kent State Ice Arena)
Elyria Catholic 3 1 2 -- 6
Roosevelt 0 3 2 -- 5
First Period -- 1. (EC) Lester; 2. (EC) Lester (Kukucka); 3. (EC) Kukucka (Sudano, Lester).
Second Period -- 4. (EC) Sudano; 5. (KR) Manning (Schmauch), pp; 6. (KR) S. Rainey (Smith, Manning), pp; 7. (KR) Smith (Schmauch, Strahan).
Third Period -- 8. (EC) Donat (Demer); 9. (KR) Boger (Manning, Fischer); 10. (EC) Lester (Saunders); 11. (KR) M. Fisher (Boger, G. Fisher), pp.
Shots on Goal -- Kent Roosevelt, 35-26.
Goaltenders/Saves -- (KR) Grootegoed/10, Fischer/10; (EC) Farmer/30.