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HOCKEY: Late goals propel Athens to win over Royal Oak

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Hockey - Boys - 2/6/2013 

Troy Athens 5
Royal Oak 3
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TROY – The Troy Athens Red Hawks snapped a long winless streak with a 5-3 home win over the visiting Royal Oak Ravens on Wednesday night.

Nathan Gurzell found Brad Merola alone on the right side of the net, and Merola one timed it home for a power play goal to give the Red Hawks a 4-3 lead just under two minutes into the third period. John Merola added an empty net goal with 44 seconds left to seal the game and complete the scoring.

After Red Hawks captain Cory Faw put Troy Athens ahead 1-0 with a power play goal in the first period, the Ravens stormed back to take lead. Kevin Trumble tied the game at 1-1 just 23 seconds after Faw had put the Red Hawks in front. A 5-on-3 power play goal by Griffin Kernen gave Royal Oak the lead heading into the second period, and another power play goal, this one by Trey Sobolewski, gave Royal Oak a 3-1 cushion with 4:50 to play in the second period.

But Brad Merola and Gurzell each scored near the end of the period, to tie the game heading to the third period, and that momentum would carry Troy Athens to victory.

“We had to fight hard to get back to 3-3,” Troy Athens head coach Joe Barone said. “Momentum shifted to our end at the end of the second, and we carried it through the third,” he added. “For us, the second period has been the worst period of the season for us statistically. So not only was I happy that we came out with a tie. But if you look at it period by period, we won the period 2-1.”

Gurzell and Merola led the way offensively for Troy Athens, combining for three goals and four assists, while John Merola had a goal and assist. Goaltender Jeff Merola stopped 27 shots to pick up the win.

Overall, Barone was pleased to see his team start to make some progress late in the year. “We’ve changed some things. We’ve adjusted the past week and a half,” Barone said. “We tied (Auburn Hills) Avondale. We took a few punches from St. Clair. They definitely showed us what we needed to work on. We came out here and executed well, not great but we executed well. We hung in against Royal Oak, and it was nice to pull out a win.”

On the other bench, Ravens coach Craig Ward was disappointed in his team’s performance.

“We came off two good wins, and you come back; you get a little cocky, and this is what happens,” he said. “It happens. Hopefully, they pick up and learn from it. I thought Troy (Athens) played well. They took it to us."

The Red Hawks get their first win since late November and improve to 5-12-2 on the year. Troy Athens will try to continue their improved play of late when they take on Fraser Friday night. Royal Oak slips to 8-10-1 plays in the Public School Showcase on Saturday against St. Clair.

Last Updated: 2/6/2013 10:41:05 PM EST

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