February 4, 2021
All high school teams can hear it. The annual Baron Cup tournament is knocking on the door and despite it being a chaotic season everyone is scrambling to gain momentum with the Baron Cup slated to begin this weekend.
There was a sense of urgency when Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League White South Division rivals Orange and Kenston clashed. The Lions wanted to make this game a special one as they were honoring their four seniors in center Jason Kornbluth, left wing Zach McCarron, right wing Sam Adler and goalkeeper Danny Moore. The Bombers had other plans on Jan. 30 and scored three unanswered goals in the third period to shock the Lions with a final score of 4-3 last Saturday evening at The Pond.
It was a crazy finish. The Lions fell behind for the first time as freshman forward Troy Krahe lit the lamp with 4:01 left in regulation off assists from senior defensemen Paxton Phillips and junior forward Jameson Parker. Then co-captain McCarron was whistled for slashing. The penalty alone would cost him 2 minutes in the penalty box but the referee awarded him an additional 2 minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct after he argued the call. This meant that unless Orange could send the game into overtime the senior’s night was done.
The Bombers had a chance to put the game away but they lost their advantage when Parker was called for a penalty at the 1:29 mark. Kenston head coach Tom Moores did not agree with the call and voiced his displeasure. The officials charged him with a game misconduct and ejected him from the contest. Since he couldn’t serve the 2-minute penalty himself, freshman forward Tommy Moores had to be pulled from the ice.
This meant that Kenston went from a five-on-four advantage to staring at a three-on-four disadvantage. Lions’ head coach Mike Teplitzky pulled Moore from the net to give his team an extra forward. The Bombers were on the verge of letting this one slip away but sophomore netminder Nate Linsz remained a brick wall in front of the goal and the Bombers’ defense stood strong to secure their second straight victory.
“We’ve been working towards this all year. If you look back we’ve had one truly bad game but every other game we’ve been involved with when we shouldn’t be. That’s just due to these kids working hard, doing their systems, playing their positions and when they do that good things are going to happen,” said coach Moores.
Kenston entered the game already four skaters down due to several players having to quarantine because of contact tracing for possible exposure to the coronavirus. For a team with only one senior on its roster there were plenty of reasons to doubt the Bombers could pull this one out. Kenston underclassmen, however, prevailed after pulling off a comeback victory on its senior night against Solon the previous weekend.
“They all have a bright future ahead of them,” Phillips said. “It’s a young group of guys but they’re getting the hang of it quickly.”
The Bombers are picking up steam at the perfect time with the Baron Cup fast approaching. This team has had to grow up fast in the middle of an unusual hockey season as well as having a first-year head coach. Kenston took a big step in its maturity with its win over Orange.
It was a tough loss for the Lions as it marked the second straight loss after losing to Stow the previous weekend. Orange was on a seven-game winning streak before losing to Stow. Orange had 38 shots on goal but left many scoring opportunities on the ice as Linsz racked up 35 saves.
“We got a bunch of shots but they boxed it in and played really well. That’s really what it came down to. They played a better game than us with fewer players,” Lions’ coach Teplitzky said.
The Lions’ skid continued with a loss to the St. Edward junior varsity team at the Pond while the Bombers were shut out by Avon in Cleveland last Sunday afternoon. Orange has a chance to right the ship when it hosts White South division rival Kent Roosevelt at The Pond on Friday night. The Baron Cup officially begins with Orange facing off against Western Reserve Academy this coming Saturday in Brooklyn while the Bombers will take on Aurora in Brooklyn this Sunday.