The Nordonia High School ice hockey team is starting to hit its collective stride at just the right time.
Although the Knights lost a pair of games this past week, they played some of their best hockey of the season during those contests.
Nordonia traveled to Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League Blue South Division foe Brooklyn on Jan. 26. The Knights dropped a 2-1 heartbreaker to the Hurricanes in overtime.
"Brooklyn is undefeated in our division," said Nordonia head coach Rich Cinalli. "We played probably our best game of the season. I'm really proud of our effort."
Nordonia was a bit sluggish in the first period. Brooklyn outshot the Knights by a 23-3 margin. However, the contest was scoreless heading into the second stanza.
Brooklyn tallied the game's first goal with 11:39 left in the second period. Nordonia answered with a goal later in the stanza.
Senior Luke Friss found the back of the net, with an assist by freshman Michael Savol. The third period was also scoreless, although Brooklyn outshot Nordonia by a 16-5 margin.
"We were still playing a very good defensive game," said coach Cinalli. "We were just having trouble getting the puck into the offensive side of the ice."
Unfortunately, Nordonia was hit with a penalty 1:47 into the overtime period. Then Brooklyn scored the game-winning goal seven seconds later. The puck went up junior goalkeeper Anthony Cinalli's arm and crossed over the goal line by about an inch before Cinalli slapped it away.
"Overall, it was one of the best games we've played all season," said coach Cinalli. "It was a complete game by everybody. We kept our speed up the entire time."
Cinalli put forth a Herculean effort between the pipes, recording 55 saves to keep Brooklyn at bay.
On Jan. 28, Nordonia hit the road again, this time visiting division rival Lakewood. The Knights fell to defeat again, this time by the score of 3-1.
"Lakewood is the second-place team in the division," said coach Cinalli. "That shows that we can play with these teams."
Lakewood scored in the first period, and then Nordonia responded in the second stanza with another goal by Friss. Junior Brandon Mitchell notched an assist on the play.
The Rangers then tallied a pair of goals in the third frame to seal their victory. Cinalli had another big game in goal, racking up 45 saves.
"We played another good, complete game against Lakewood," said coach Cinalli. "Things are coming together for us. These are the types of teams we'd be facing in the Baron Cup."
Nordonia now owns a record of 5-5 in the Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League Blue South Division.
On Feb. 3, Nordonia will battle division adversary Mayfield. Although the contest is being played at Gilmour Academy the Knights are the away team.
On Feb. 5, Nordonia will host division nemesis Brush on what will be Senior Day for the Knights. It's also Student Appreciation Day, meaning that any student wearing Nordonia gear will get into the contest for free. The Senior Day festivities start at noon, and the puck will drop at 1 p.m.