Nordonia ice hockey coach Rich Cinalli has set a rhythm to his team’s season thus far.
The Knights try to alternate between playing foes in the Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League’s Blue South Division, followed by tournaments where the Knights battle against higher division teams.
That pattern continued over the holidays. The Knights enjoyed a great weekend, beating Blue South foes Elyria Catholic 5-0 Dec. 20 in Elyria and Brush 10-0 Dec. 22 at the Knights’ home rink at Gilmour Academy.
The Knights then participated in the Avon Lake Tournament at Winterhurst Ice Rink in Lakewood. Cinalli said his team had a rough go of it, losing 8-0 to Amhurst Steele and 3-1 to Perrysburg Dec. 29 and falling 7-0 to Avon Lake Dec. 30.
Returning to division play Saturday at Winterhurst, Nordonia dropped at 6-0 loss to Blue South leading Lakewood. However, the Knights rebounded with a 10-0 win over Garfield Heights at Gilmour Academy Sunday.
Nordonia’s record stands at 4-12, including 4-3 in Blue South Division, where the Knights are tied for third place with Mayfield.
"We’re in great position to make the Baron Cup," Cinalli said. "The top four teams in the division make it. We’re playing well as a team. This is the time we need to put it together."
The game against Elyria Catholic might have been Nordonia’s best of the season thus far.
"We had good showing from everyone on the team," the coach said. "We skated fast and kept their No. 1 scorer in check.
Earning his second shutout of the season. senior goaltender Anthony Cinalli had 27 saves.
Freshman winger Brian Sebastian led the Knights offense with two goals and assist, while fellow freshman winger Carson Carrell had one goal and two assists in the win.
Coach Cinalli noted the Arcs didn’t offer much resistance.
"We tried everything good to be sportsmanlike, but Brush is a very, very weak team. A lot of our younger players got into that game," the coach said. "I don’t think Anthony had one or two shots on him in the entire game."
Sophomore winger Carson Banks got his first hat trick in the win, but Nick Peters added two goals and sophomore Vincent Costello had four assists.
The Avon Lake Tournament saw the Knights struggle against higher division foes. Peters scored the lone goal for the Knights in the tournament, scoring at 9:08 of the second period against Perrysburg.
"The boys got a lot of practice in this tournament," coach Cinalli said. "They were skating faster by the end of it. It helps their progression."
Winterhurst continued to be a tough place to play for the Knights Saturday, as Nordonia could not find its offense against the Rangers.
"That game we came out a little bit slow," coach Cinalli said. "A lot of the game was played in our own zone. We had trouble getting through the neutral zone. They play a trap there. We had multiple chances with 5-on-3 power plays and regular power plays, but we just couldn’t get anything past them."
Anthony Cinalli made 21 saves in the loss.
The Knights offense roared back to life the next night against the Bulldogs, as Nordonia pumped out its second 10-0 win of the season.
Carrell had a huge night for the Knights, picking up four goals and one assist, while Sebastian added two goals and an assist. Senior center Tyler Justice had a goal and two assists, while senior winger Everett Butler scored his first career goal in the win.
Nordonia will return to tournament play this week, as it participates in the Parma Martin Luther King Tournament at Ries Rink in Parma. The Knights will play North Canton Hoover at 11 a.m. Saturday, Brooklyn at 11:30 a.m. Sunday and Kettering Archbishop Alter at 11 a.m. Monday.