KENT — By merely looking at the records, one might think the Nordonia ice hockey team would be favored in its first-round playoff game with Kent Roosevelt.
However, it should be noted the Rough Riders struggled while playing in the Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League’s Red South Division — a full four divisions higher than the Knights, who play in the Blue South.
The distance between the two programs was reflected in the score.
Seeded 13th in the Kent District, the Rough Riders ran roughshod over the Knights, scoring three goals in each period to send 18th-seeded Nordonia to a 9-1 defeat Monday at the Kent State University Ice Arena.
With the win, Roosevelt improved to 4-26 and advanced to face top-seeded University School Friday at 6 p.m. at the KSU Ice Arena.
Nordonia finished the season at 9-19, as Nordonia also was eliminated from Baron Cup III by Lakewood 2-1 in first round Wednesday at Brooklyn.
Roosevelt coach Ben Barlow said a commitment to team-based hockey led to the Rough Riders’ big win.
"The No. 1 thing we’ve been talking about the last month is making the extra pass," Barlow said. "If you can pass first and then look for the goal it gets everybody involved. It’s exciting to watch and its more fun."
Meanwhile, Nordonia coach Rich Cinalli said his team had nothing to be ashamed of.
"Overall, we played a very good game," Cinalli said. "This is the first time in years we’ve played a state (tournament) game where we kept playing until the end. I think Roosevetl was surprised how hard we played."
Kent Roosevelt’s advantage in team speed was apparent early, as the Rough Riders came after the Knights’ goal early and ofter.
Rough Rider center Kai Klempp opened the scoring at the 11:23 mark of the first, putting in a backhand off a pass from Phil Macomber
While Nordonia was able to kill off a cross-checking penalty, Roosevelt’s attack was constant.
Roosevelt freshman Ethan Steffl scored a pair of goals in quick succession in the first half. Steffl reacted first to a loose puck in front of the net and put it home at the 3:32 mark before tapping in a shot on the left post with 2:21 left in the first.
Macomber assisted on all three first-period goals.
Down 3-0 at the first intermission, Nordonia attempted to push the action, but Roosevelt quickly replied.
Roosevelt got a power-play goal from Andrew Jaggers off a big slap shot from the blue line with 10:14 left that was followed by a screened goal from Nick Krestan with 9:23.
Krestan got his second goal with 4:18 left in the second to engage the running-clock rule, but things got chippy late in the third period.
After two straight Rough Riders penalities, Krestan was hit with a five-minute penalty for contact to the head on Nordonia defenseman Samantha Peters. Nordonia’s coaches wanted a game midconduct, which drew a bench penalty.
Peters took a few more minutes before leaving the ice on her own power. Cinalli said she was OK after the game.
Roosevelt had to kill off the five-minute major early in the third period, but got short-handed goals from Brandon Munore (13:51) and Stefil (12:30) during the penalty.
Krestan got his hat trick with 4:30 left in the game.
Nordonia was able to avoid the shutout with 25 seconds left, when freshman Brian Sebastian followed his own shot and poked the rebound into the net.
Roosevelt finished with a 26-14 edge in shots on goal.
Knights goaltender Anthony Cinalli had 17 saves in his final high school game.
"Anthony being an all-league honorable mention player this year, obvivously, we’re going to miss him," coach Cinalli said.
Roosevelt starting goaltender Zachary Harper had eight saves in the first two periods, while freshman Logan Pfeiffer had five saves in the third period.