KENT — With their final place in the Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League White North Division determined and Baron Cup II playoff seeding secured, the Western Reserve Academy ice hockey team skated past Kent Roosevelt 6-2 in the two teams’ regular-season finale Saturday at Kent State University Ice Arena.
Saturday’s matinee was the third meeting between the division foes this season, and they’re not done playing each other yet as the two teams are scheduled to play again Tuesday in the opening round of the Baron Cup II tournament.
The Rough Riders won the previous two games this season and earned the White North Division title with their victory over Avon last Thursday.
The Pioneers improved their overall record to 11-14 overall and finished 7-6 in division play, while Roosevelt dropped to 21-9 and finished 9-4 in the division.
Reserve senior captains Tommy Wagner, a forward, and Nate Hopkins, the team’s goaltender, led the way in Saturday’s game.
Wagner tallied three goals in the contest while Hopkins stopped 34 Roosevelt shots on 36 attempts for an impressive .944 save percentage.
"That is what you always look for senior captains to do," WRA head coach Brand Closen said. "Lead by example."
"They have kids that can play, starting with their goaltender," Rough Riders head coach Ben Barlow said. "Hopkins’ play in the first period won them the game. He was dynamite. We had our opportunities.
"No. 9 (Wagner) was all over the place, doing really positive things for them. He’s good and is the top scorer in our league."
Wagner led the White North Division with 44 points (32 goals and 12 assists) in 13 games.
Roosevelt sophomore Jason Sears opened the afternoon’s scoring after deflecting a pass from Robby Lachman into the Pioneers’ net.
Three minutes later, Wagner netted an unassisted goal, the first of a pair of opening-period goals he tallied and the initial goal of his eventual hat trick.
Wagner scored a power-play goal with less than a minute to play in the first period after an assist from Ian Richardson.
Wagner’s final goal of the afternoon was the only goal of the second period at the 4-minute, 48-second mark.
Nick Krestan scored an early third-period goal to bring the Rough Riders to within a goal. However, Ray Barrett netted a puck three minutes later to regain a two-goal lead for WRA at 4-2.
Richardson added an empty-net goal late in the contest and Lucas Martinez fired a shot at Roosevelt goaltender Jake Bennett that bounced off Bennett’s blocker up and over the goaltender’s shoulder and into the back of the net for the 6-2 final score.
"The kids stepped up, elevated and were going hard." Closen said. "It’s nice for us to have some momentum. It was important for us to have a good team effort and that’s what I thought we had (Saturday)."
Follow Jim Smith on Twitter at @BlueLineNotes.