Kenston off to another gaudy start
The 2009-10 squad at Kenston carries a special place in program history, and for good reason as a 31-win Baron Cup II finalist with noted News-Herald area fixtures in Colton Deeter, Greg Revak and Kyle Weninger, one of the better first forward lines in area history, leading the charge.
The current edition of the Bombers is doing pretty well in establishing their own identity.
Kenston is 16-2-1, including a 6-0 mark in the Red South of the new-look GCHSHL, and just had a 12-game winning streak snapped by reigning state champion Shaker Heights, 3-2, on Saturday.
“Absolutely, I couldn’t be happier,” Bombers coach Tom Beard said. “I know we just lost, but I’m excited about what this team we have can accomplish if we play together and play as a team.”
Kenston has been fortunate through the years to have some dynamic two-way threats on the blue line, including recently with siblings Ben and Zack Kinney, and this year’s squad is no exception. Junior defenseman Jack Javorsky leads the Bombers with 19 goals, standing out on special teams and lending a physical influence in the defensive zone.
Twin brothers Sam and Nathan Johnson, who transferred from Shaker Heights, have been key cogs in their debut campaign with Kenston. Sam Johnson has 16 goals, and Nathan Johnson has added well to an already solid corps on the blue line.
Put that together with established performers such as Alex Petre and Ryan Herpy, among many others, and it’s been a winning recipe thus far.
“Jack is playing defense, and he is an offensive defenseman definitely,” Beard said. “He is big and strong and doing everything for us. He is a threat both ways.
“Nathan is such a good player. He fights hard on every shift and battles. Sam is a big guy who has an incredible set of hands. He handles the puck well. Sam is exceptional.”
Another new face who has assisted the Bombers’ cause is sophomore goaltender Kent Mack, who played AAA hockey in Detroit prior to coming to Geauga County.
“I knew Kent was good, but I didn’t know just how good he was,” Beard said. “He’s around a 2.0 goals-against average, which I’ve never had since I’ve been at Kenston. Playing the teams we play, it’s way above what I hoped for.”
Despite having a lengthy win streak snapped, Beard was encouraged by what he saw Saturday at Thornton Park against Shaker.
“One thing I told the guys as we left the rink, ‘You played the defending state champions at their own rink to one goal. There is nothing to be ashamed of from where we’re coming,’ ” Beard said. “Jack got hurt in the first period and we had a couple guys on suspension, so I was playing basically our first line and third line every other shift. Playing Shaker within a goal, I was very proud of that.”
Off to such a strong start in the Red South naturally brings thoughts of Baron Cup I next month at Brooklyn. One thing that gaudy 2009-10 squad did not do was hoist a Baron Cup, and Beard is optimistic the Bombers can be in the argument when it’s all said and done.
“Our goal is to win the Red South and qualify for the Baron Cup,” Beard said. “We play Brecksville this week, Strongsville the week after and Mentor in our last game of the year. So we’d have played all of the Red North before we go to the Baron Cup.
“I think the sky is the limit for us. This really could be a special group of Kenston players.”
Top of the Crop
1. (1) Lake Catholic 17-4-2
2. (2) University 15-2-5
3. (3) Gilmour 6-9
4. (4) Kenston 16-2-1
5. (5) Mentor 5-12
Crop comments: There’s no way around it — Lake did not exactly begin the calendar year in compelling fashion with a 5-1 loss to Holy Name. US tied Walsh Jesuit, 2-2, on Friday. With the two N-H area powers locking horns Saturday, we’ll leave the top two as is and let them settle it on the ice. … Prior to the big Lake-US showdown, Gilmour will get a crack at the Cougars on Wednesday night. That could be interesting. … It was a good sign to see Mentor edge Brecksville on Friday, but the Cardinals followed that with a 7-0 loss to Shaker on Sunday. The ebb and flow this season has made this a tough team to figure out.