Sophomore goalie Eli Caine had shots coming at him from every direction, but he wasn’t the reason his Northwest hockey team fell to a strong Priory team, 6-1.
Considering that the Rebels outshot the Lions, 55-14, it’s evident that Caine did all he could to keep his team in contention Friday in a Mid States Club Hockey Association Central Conference showdown at the Fenton Forum.
Northwest head coach Chris Miller said as much after the game.
“It was a tough loss,” Miller said. “Eli Caine stood out for us.”
Caine was moving every direction in front of the crease all night, displaying cat-quick reflexes as he saved numerous shots.
He said the lopsided stats weren’t reflective of the effort by his teammates.
“We tried 110 percent. That’s what matters,” Caine said. “We didn’t get the shots we needed. We got tired out there. They (Priory) were a strong team.”
The Lions came out physical, with senior defenseman Spencer Kovacs and junior forward Sean Scanlon dealing out aggressive checks.
Five minutes in, Priory’s Patrick O’Keefe opened the scoring, and three minutes later, forward Charlie Walker gave the Rebels a 2-0 lead as he scored on a slap shot.
Junior forward Cody Patton got the Lions on the board with his first goal of the season at 5:49 of the first period. Patton stripped the puck from a Rebel and scurried down the ice to score on a slap shot.
Two minutes later, senior Logan Boatright gave Priory a two-goal cushion again.
The Lions continued to charge hard as senior forward Logan Gott and Scanlon attempted shots on goal but were denied by Rebel sophomore goalie William Azrak.
Nearly three minutes into the second period, senior Sawyer Lownsdale scored off a rebound to give the Rebels a 4-1 lead.
Scanlon had a chance to trim the lead on a breakway, but Azrak stopped his slap shot.
The speed and passing skill of Priory (6-0 in division play, 6-0-1 overall) started to wear out the Lions midway through the game, but a pair of freshmen, Christopher Frede and Lucas Hunt, had good chances. Azrak stood tall against Frede’s shot off a rebound and Hunt’s breakaway.
Priory added an insurance marker before the end of the period. Caine faced 36 shots through the first two periods.
While the Lions had their chances, they went scoreless on five power-play opportunities.
Junior Samuel Oar’s shot midway through the final period was the Lions’ best chance to cut into the Priory lead.
After winning their season-opener 5-2 against Lutheran South, Northwest dropped to 1-4 in the division and 1-7 overall. Their two points give them a tie for sixth place in the Central Conference with Webster Groves.
Priory leads the Central Conference with 13 points.
The Lions are hoping to pick up some points Friday at the Fenton Forum against fifth-place Mary Institute-Country Day School. Faceoff is at 9 p.m.