By Jim Smith | Special to the Record-Courier
According to Kent Roosevelt ice hockey coach Ben Barlow, metaphorically speaking for players on the ice, "Puck-watching is said to be the biggest disease in hockey."
Late Wednesday night, his Rough Rider team seemed to be experiencing epidemic proportions of the "disease" in a 6-2 defeat to Elyria Catholic at the North Park Recreation Center in Elyria.
"We did a lot of puck-watching. We had loose pucks in our offensive zone, close to a guy but we would turn our back and we would hesitate in attacking the puck," said Barlow.
Throughout the game, Kent Roosevelt's offensive effort was limited to "one-and-done" opportunities with limited passing or second-chance rebound opportunities.
"We set a goal for the next four games of scoring 10 what we call 'nasty goals,' in-tight rebound goals, sticks down and jam loose pucks home," sai Barlow. "In our first two shots of the game we got one of those and then we shied away from that type of play."
Elyria Catholic opened the game's scoring on a power-play goal by Jeremy Ng, assisted by Steve Donat, at 12:03 of the opening period.
The Rough Riders responded to Ng's goal by scoring their "nasty" goal on a shot off a rebound netted by junior Scott Rainey. Gabe Smith and Mitch Francis earned assists on the play.
Barlow recounted the "nasty goal" scoring effort he was looking for: "We score our first goal, it's the second shot of the game, it's late, we didn't get a shot within the first several minutes of the game, we finally get one shot on goal, Gabe gets the puck in the 'house' within 10 feet of the goal, fires the puck on net with the purpose of if it goes in, great, if it doesn't it will create a rebound and, what do you know, Scott Rainey is right there with his stick down."
Entering the second period tied at one goal apiece, Elyria Catholic's Donat energized his team by scoring two consecutive goals within a span of 1:12 to propel the Panthers to a lead they would not relinquish. Paul Demer and William Gentry assisted on Donat's second goal.
Near the end of the second period the Rough Riders' Okko Boger, on assists from Mitch Fisher and Kyle Manning, scored a power-play goal within the first five seconds of the advantage off a very well-executed effort.
"Our two goals we scored were beautiful goals; really good, smart goals. At that point it's a close game," said Barlow. "Overall, our total effort could have been better."
Unfortunately for the Rough Riders, the Panthers increased their lead in the final period. Elyria Catholic scored three consecutive short-handed goals in killing penalties during the third period, including an empty-net goal with 27 seconds remaining in the contest. Freshman David Kukucka and defenseman Colin Lester, who scored two of the three, accounted for the trio of short-handed tallies.
Blue line notes
n Rough The Riders have a busy weekend ahead of them as they will participate in the Chardon Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin Tournament. The Rough Riders open play Friday night at 7:15 p.m. against Cleveland Benedictine. On Saturday, the Rough Riders skate against Mayfield at noon and again at 7:15 p.m. against tournament host ND-CL. All games are at the Mentor Ice Arena.
n The Rough Riders are hosting "Kent Hockey Day" on Feb. 2 at 4 p.m. at the KSU Ice Arena. The event will provide an opportunity for any Kent City Schools student up to eighth grade to try hockey for free. For additional information, email: email@example.com or speak with any Kent Roosevelt High School hockey coach, any Kent City Schools physical education teacher or Rough Rider hockey player and check the Kent State Ice Arena Bulletin Board. The Rough Riders play CVCA at 1:45 p.m. prior to the event.
n Follow Jim Smith on twitter @bluelinenotes