Published: Saturday, January 27, 2007
Kovacs' 3 goals key Canfield
The Cardinals overpowered Twinsburg, 6-3, for their 10th win this season.
By JOHN KOVACH
BOARDMAN The Canfield High ice hockey team had defeated Twinsburg twice this season before Friday's game, and so the Cardinals suspected they weren't going against the Tigers' regular goalie in their third meeting at the Ice Zone.
Canfield capitalized on the Twinsburg goalie Joel Sands' inexperience with a strong offensive attack. Zack Kovacs fired in three goals and added an assist to lead the Cardinals to a 6-3 decision in a Cleveland High School Hockey League game.
"We knew that we were playing against an inexperienced goalie and that we had to be patient [and we would score]," said coach Joe Villano of Canfield (10-9-1, 4-6 CHSHL). "Kovacs knew he had to be patient [and he was].
"This is the third time we played them. We now are 3-0 against them," Villano said.
Kovacs, a senior forward, scored two of his goals without help, one coming on a penalty shot and the other unassisted. His other goal came on an assist from Connor McNamara to give him a hat trick.
Kovacs is the Cardinals' leading scorer this season with 25 goals and 10 assists for 35 points.
"[Kovacs] pretty much plays like this all the time. He has had hat tricks before. He is our leading scorer," said Villano, whose team got off to a strong start with a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Greg Firestone and Tom Cheslik. Tyler Buchenic and Tom Carney got the respective assists.
"We maintained control in our zone," Villano said. "We were keeping the puck in our zone. We were able to maneuver it in our zone."
Sands' first time in goal
Coach Val Hernandez of Twinsburg (7-15-1, 3-8) said that although substitute goalie Sands gave up six goals, that he also played a good game for being in goal for the first time.
"I was very pleased the way he played," Hernandez said. "You couldn't tell that it was the first time that he played goalie.
"And we even played better defense because we knew we had to do that to back him up," said Hernandez, who explained that the team lost its goalie due to academic ineligibility.
"We lost our regular goalie, Josh Arnold, due to ineligibility. He was on top in the Blue Division in save percentage. He is a junior. We lost him to grades," Hernandez said.
"We have no back-up goalie. A defensive player [Sands] played goalie," Hernandez said. "We put him in there because we had no other goalie. This is the first time he ever played goalie."
"[Sands] will play there the rest of the season. Arnold will be out the rest of the season."
Cameron Labry scored two goals for Twinsburg while Sean Williams had the other tally.
Williams' goal on assists from Bob Bartok and Peter Judy cut Canfield's lead to 2-1, but Kovacs' first goal on McNamara's assist boosted the Cardinals ahead by 3-1 entering the second period.
Then Labnry scored on assists from Bartok and Grayson Collins to pull the Tigers within 3-2, before Kovacs scored two in a row on a penalty shot and without assist to make it 5-2 after two periods.
Labry struck again on Collins' assist to make it 5-3 with about 13 minutes remaining, but Kovacs final score on McNamara's assist with about 2:35 added insurance.
Villano said that Mark Takach was outstanding on defense while Tyler Buchenic played well at center.
"Takach was real strong back there. He had an excellent game," Villano said. "Buchenic is our third-line center. He was flying around the ice with good speed and made good decisions."
Villano also said goalie Brian Moore made some nice stops.
"Our goalie Brian Moore was coming off an injury. It's tough to play in goal when you are not getting [a lot of] shots," Villano said.