Published in The Chagrin Valley Times
December 9, 2021
Battling through a pandemic last year was not part of the plan, but Kenston Bombers’ hockey coach Tom Moores believes it made his team stronger. The Bombers out-muscled Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League White East Division rival Orange 5-2 last Sunday night at The Pond.
“I think since it’s so early in the season teams are still feeling each other out,” said Moores. “I was more than impressed with our effort Sunday night. It’s definitely an exciting win and to set the tone early for the season is a positive thing.”
Both teams were undefeated in GCHSHL White East play entering Sunday’s contest. Kenston (2-2-0, 2-0-0) had recently knocked off division rival Aurora on Dec. 3 and the Lions defeated the Greenmen in their season debut on Nov. 21.
The division rivals engaged in a scoreless stalemate during the first period but the Bombers began crashing the net. They put 14 shots on goal in the first period before sophomore forward Troy Krahe scored after deking out Orange freshman goalkeeper Zach Frederick to put Kenston up 1-0 at the 2:08 mark with assists by freshmen forwards Luke Mack and Gavin Rowell.
Orange (5-1-1, 1-1-0) was held to two shots at the net during the first period.
“That was really a focus in between periods,” said Lions’ coach Michael Berg. “Kenston did a really god job blocking shots and really pressured the puck.”
Kenston continued to pepper Lions’ freshman goalkeeper Zach Frederick in the second period by recording 12 shots. Kenston took a 2-0 lead after senior defensemen Max Frampton scored after collecting a rebound off a shot attempt by Mack with 11:55 left in the second period.
The Bombers continued gobbling up rebounds and stretched their lead to 3-0 when Mack scored after catching another rebound, this time off a shot attempt by Rowell.
“We always try and use our size to our advantage,” said the second-year Bombers’ coach. “We’re fortunate to have some size mixed with speed. I think that’s taken teams by surprise.”
The Lions had no answer for Kenston’s defense and did not put a shot at the net in the second period. It was the first time this season the Bombers held an opponent to no shots on goal during a period.
“We lost the physical war with Kenston,” admitted the Orange’s second-year coach. “We lost because of the puck-pressure and created some bad turnovers in our defensive zone. We knew we were going to have to move the puck a little quicker and move without the puck and we just got caught watching. We just weren’t moving our feet.”
Kenston’s defense gave Orange a golden opportunity when junior forward Chase Parker was sent to the penalty box after being whistled for hooking near the end of the second period.
His penalty time bled into the start of the third period and the Lions cashed in on the power play when sophomore left defensemen Max Sigel scored off an assist from senior center Jackson Fellinger to cut the lead to 3-1 at the 14:02 mark.
Just when it seemed the Lions were seizing momentum, Kenston snuffed it out when Parker rocketed a slap-shot from 20 feet past Frederick to push the lead back to 4-1 with 9:54 left in regulation. Senior forwards Jackson Keen and Patrick Benjamin were each credited with an assist.
The Bombers added one more goal to go ahead 5-1 when sophomore forward Troy Krahe tapped the puck into the net off an assist from Rowell with 6:30 remaining.
“Any time you can come right back after they score and put two on the board is a statement,” Moores noted. “It shows the character of this team so I’m pretty proud of them for that.”
The Lions tried coming back by leaning on their transition game. That led to multiple Kenton penalties leaving it short-handed near the end of the third quarter.
The Bombers picked up three penalties in the final five minutes of regulation creating a five-on-three advantage for Orange to cut the lead to 5-2 on a goal by junior left wing Patricio Argote.
Thanks to their strength in numbers, the Lions finally started putting shots on net in the third period but it was too little too late. It marked the second time in three games Orange struggled to shoot the puck.
The Lions will welcome Aurora to Auburn Township for a re-match on Dec. 11 at 6:45 p.m. then host Westlake on Dec. 12 when the puck drops at 5:50 p.m.
Following a road contest against Kent Roosevelt on Dec. 9 at 7 p.m., the Bombers will welcome Stow to The Pond on Dec. 10 at 9 p.m., host Western Reserve Academy on Dec. 11 at 4 p.m. then close out the weekend by traveling to Kent State University to square off against the Stow Club Team on Dec. 12 at 3:10 p.m.
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