Kent Roosevelt ice hockey team falls to University School in district tournament

By Jim Smith | Correspondent Published:

By Jim Smith | Correspondent

Facing the highly skilled and traditionally strong Hunting Valley University School Preppers ice hockey team, Kent Roosevelt's Rough Riders were eliminated 5-2 from the Ohio High School Athletic Association Kent Division I District on Saturday evening at the Kent State University Ice Arena.

"What a great game to be a part of today," said Roosevelt coach Ben Barlow. "It's (University School) a team that you know going into the season legitimately is a step ahead year in and year out, and has the players to compete for a state title."

A well-thought out game plan by Roosevelt's coaching staff and successful execution by the Riders kept the score close throughout.

"We had to change up our systems a little bit. Our No. 1 goal was to keep them from playing their game and I think we did a heck of a job doing that today," said Barlow. "I am extremely proud of our kids today."

After a scoreless first period, Rough Rider senior captain Kyle Manning ignited the crowd with an unassisted goal at 12:44 of the second period.

"We had three phases of our game plan: defensive zone face-offs -- as we knew there would be a lot of those -- defensive zone coverage and neutral-zone forecheck," said Barlow. "We were set up to create a turnover in the neutral zone and try and score off that opportunity and that's how Kyle got his first goal."

The Preppers, taking advantage of a power-play opportunity, tied the score on a Tyler Dalton goal at 9:28 of the middle period. Evan Krueger and Kyle Keane assisted on the extra-man goal.

University School would tally one more second-period goal at the 5:45 mark on an effort by Krueger. Andrew Musser and Dalton were credited with assists.

Entering the final period leading 2-1, University School took advantage of two additional power-play opportunities on goals by Musser and Clarke Jones to gain a 4-1 lead with 1:09 remaining in the final period. Musser's effort was unassisted, while Sam Strang and Jack Linderman assisted on the Jones goal.

Skating hard until what would be the end of their season, the Riders' Manning with the goal and sophomore Gabe Smith with the assist netted Kent's final goal of the game -- and their season -- with 41 seconds remaining in the contest.

University School's Strang tallied an empty-net goal with :02 left in the game to account for the Preppers' fifth goal of the game.

Kent's Nate Grootegoed, who had recently been named First Team White Division goaltender, stopped 51 of the 56 shots he faced in the contest.

Blueline notes

n Stat of the game: while being outshot 56-7 in the contest, the Rough Riders actually outscored University School 2-1 when playing even-strength, as three of the Preppers' goals were power play and their final goal was an empty-net effort.

n Barlow, in describing the season as "wonderful," stated that he felt "blessed to be a part of it and there are 18 wonderful boys in that locker room and a tremendous coaching staff that did a heck of a job this year."

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