Facing a division foe twice in four days can be a bit of a tricky situation.
Nordonia ice hockey dealt with that situation well last week as it throttled Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League Blue Division foe Elyria Catholic twice.
The Knights beat the Panthers 9-0 Wednesday at North Park Ice Arena in Elyria, followed by an 8-0 win Sunday at Gilmour Academy.
Nordonia improved to 8-8-1 overall on the season and 6-0-1 in the Blue South Division. Although the Knights are at .500, coach Rich Cinalli noted the Knights at plus-11 in the plus/minus ratio.
Cinalli noted the strategy against Elyria Catholic was simple: Use its overall team depth to swamp the Panthers.
"Elyria Catholic is a little bit short on players," Cinalli said. "We wanted to get at them with a team approach. We used a lot of quick shifts to try to keep our players fresh.
"That really tired them out. By the end the game, they were icing the puck just to get their rest. It was a good team game for us."
The strategy worked to perfection for Nordonia, who let 4-0 after one period and 6-0 after two periods.
"They’ve got some good skaters, but with that short bench, we were able to get to them," Cinalli said. "As we knew we had the game in hand, we put in our younger kids. It was a good experience for all of our players."
It was centers who did much of the damage for Nordonia, as junior Matt Monaco had a hat trick and junior Brian Sebastian had two goals in the win. Junior Anthony Stutler added two assists.
Goaltender Tommy Lippincott had a quiet night, needing only eight saves to pick up the shutout. Cinalli tipped his hat to Panthers goaltender Sean Decker, who made 37 saves on the night, as Nordonia pumped 46 shots on goal.
Both teams knew was coming in the rematch Sunday, as Cinalli didn’t adjust his strategy much.
"We knew what we were dealing with," Cinalli said. "They started to ice the pucks early against us Sunday to try to get more rest. We had Tommy Lippincott come out and stop their icing attempts. It worked out well."
Lippincott needed to make only six saves to get the shutout this time, while Nordonia’s offense pumped 47 shots on goal.
The Carrell twins led Nordonia’s offense in the second game, as juniors Carson and Kenton Carrell each scored two goals. Monaco had a playmaker with three assists in the win.
With the Knights cruising through the Blue South Division, Nordonia will step up in competition again this weekend when it participates in the Parma MLK Tournament at Mike Ries Ice Rink.
The Knights are set to face Aurora Saturday at 6:15 p.m., take on Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy Sunday at 3:30 p.m. and play Kettering Archbishop Alter Monday at 9 a.m.
Cinalli also notes Jan. 26 vs. Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin will be Senior Night and Student Appreciation Night at Gilmour Academy. All Nordonia students wearing Knight green will receive free admission.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_GHO