PREP ICE HOCKEY Stephens keys Garfield past a struggling Canfield
By GREG GULAS
BOARDMAN -- If the Canfield High ice hockey team was meant to win its game Saturday against Garfield Heights, Matt Stephens would not have been on the travel roster for the Bulldogs.
Stephens did, however, make the trip and his presence produced three goals and three assists, pacing the Bulldogs to a 7-2 victory over the Cardinals in Greater Cleveland High School Hockey Association action at The Ice Zone.
"Once they set up in their zone it was tough for us to do anything," Canfield coach Joe Villano said. "I felt we played well despite the final score.
"Injuries have left us shorthanded," he added. "Once the third period rolls around we just aren't as fresh as the start of the game."
Back and forth
The Cardinals (3-13-2, 2-8-2) took an early 1-0 lead as Philipp Tolf scored an unassisted goal just 2:27 into the opening period.
The Bulldogs (7-7-1, 1-4-1) tied the game 21 seconds later on Matt Omiecinski's goal.
When Stephens scored the first of his three goals at 11:38, the Bulldogs took a 2-1 lead after the first 25 minutes, a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the game.
"Some players seem to mesh and Matt Stephens and David Patz are two such players," Garfield Heights coach Brad Wilson said. "They work well together and seem to know where each other is on the ice at all times.
Patz gave the Bulldogs a 3-1 advantage just 17 seconds into the second period with an unassisted goal. When Greg Svihlik's shot found the net at 12:13, he increased the Garfield Heights lead to 4-1.
Mike Vrable's goal (assisted by both Tolf and Andy Davis) just 34 seconds before the end of the period cut the Bulldog lead to 4-2 after the first 30 minutes of play.
In the final period Stephens had two goals (at 4:27 and 9:39) and Matt Pawlak his only goal on the night (at 6:01), enabling the Bulldogs to break a five-game losing streak and a four-game conference drought in the process.
Garfield Heights held a 31-17 shots-on-goal advantage, out-shooting Canfield 19-12 during the final two periods.