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Rocks 9 - Centerville Elks 1
The Coffman Rocks roared into the district tournament Sunday afternoon by dismantling the Centerville Elks 9-1. The last time these two teams met in early December the Rocks edged Centerville in a shootout. But this time Coffman would dominate the Elks and make an emphatic statement to begin post season play.
13 different Rocks registered points, led by freshman forward Ryon Malas, who scored 2 goals and added an assist. Two other Rocks had a pair of goals and freshman goalie Grant Powell made 15 saves on 16 shots to help the Rocks advance to the 2nd round of the district tournament.
The Rocks took advantage of an early Centerville penalty to get on the board first. Just over a minute into the contest, the Elks’ Connor Emmel was sent to the penally box for hooking, but he wouldn’t be there long.
After Rocks captain Gunner Gruehl won the ensuing face off, junior Nathan Rusin slid a pass to Thomas Tate who was manning the left side of the blue line. Tate took two seconds to size up the Centerville defense, then let loose a slap shot from 55 feet out. The puck whizzed through traffic and past Elks goalie Garrett Slagle. Just :05 seconds into the Coffman power play, it was Rocks 1, Centerville 0.
The Rocks would double their lead midway through the period when freshman Ryon Malas tallied the first of his two goals on the night. After picking up a loose puck just inside the Centerville zone, Malas showed remarkable patience as he skated through and around several Elks players. After carrying the puck down low and drawing coverage, Malas fed the puck to Austen Hayden in the crease, who passed it right back for a beautiful give-and-go play.
Malas fired a low hard shot that beat the Elks goalie five hole, making the score Rocks 2, Centerville 0.
Less than 5 minutes into the second, the Rocks would extend their lead thanks to the hustle of defenseman Trevor Rawdon. Trying to clear the puck from their zone, the Elks ripped the puck along the near wall, but Rawdon used his speed and the length of his stick to keep it in. After settling the puck down he fed Ian Flinders who ripped a shot that beat the Elks goalie and made the score Rocks 3, Centerville 0.
But Coffman’s 3-goal lead would only last :30 seconds. After the ensuing face off, the Elks’ Eric Berkemeier parked himself in front of the Rocks net and tipped in a knee-high shot from the point that made it Rocks 3, Centerville 1.
Two minutes later the Elks had two chances to inch closer, but Rocks goalie Grant Powell stopped a break away and a point-blank rebound to protect the two goal lead. After that, the Rocks would explode for 3 goals in the final 5 minutes to take complete control of the game.
With 5:17 left, Ryon Malas would strike again, this time unassisted. After moving the puck to the center of the crease, Malas patiently waited for the Elks goalie to drop. Once he did, Malas neatly tucked the puck around his right pad to make it Rocks 4, Centerville 1.
Less than 2 minutes later, the Rocks’ Trevor Rawdon registered his second assist on the night after firing a low shot on net from 40 feet out. Centerville goalie Garrett Slagle made that save, but there was Coffman’s Mark Heneman to poke the puck home. Rocks 5, Centerville 1.
It looked like the Elks might stop the Rocks scoring barrage and sneak out of the period only down by 4, but Coffman’s Thomas Tate had other plans. Once again, desperate to clear the puck from their own zone, the Elks riffled the puck through the center of their zone, but Tate made a great play to hold it in. He then skated three strides toward the Elks net and ripped a blistering shot from 45 feet out. With :19.7 seconds left in the second period, Tate’s second goal of the game made it Rocks 6, Centerville 1.
Halfway through the third the Rocks’ Mark Heneman tallied his second goal of the night, ripping a shot high over the glove of the Elks’ goalie. J.T. Latshaw and freshman defenseman Cam Fiorita got the assists and pushed the score to Rocks 7, Centerville 1.
With just under 3 and a half minutes to play, the Elks rimmed the puck along the boards behind their own net, hoping to relieve the Rocks’ relentless pressure. But Ryon Malas intercepted the attempt and had the puck all alone just below the goal line.
No one would blame Malas if he’d fired a shot to try and log the first hat trick of his high school career, but he didn’t. After drawing coverage, Malas unselfishly slid a perfect pass to the crease where the Rocks’ Tyler Burich knocked it home. Rocks 8, Centerville 1.
With just over a minute to play, the Rocks were still attacking. Senior Allen Yi fed a pass to Cam Fiorita who registered his second assist of the night by firing a low, hard shot to the right side of the net. Centerville’s goalie kicked that shot aside but the Rocks’ Jason Strine was waiting for the rebound. Mercifully for the Elks, Strine’s goal would end the scoring, making the final Rocks 9, Centerville 1.
In round 2 of the district tournament the Rocks will face a familiar foe - taking on the Olentangy Orange Pioneers Saturday night. It will be the 5th time this year the two teams have met. Both have won twice, but whoever loses the next game will have to wait until next season to play again.