KENT — His team lit up the goal as if it was Christmas all over again.
But pardon Aurora head ice hockey coach John Sheridan if he wasn’t particularly enthused to see what Santa put under the tree.
"Now we get the privilege of playing Shaker," he said wryly. "Yay!"
Sheridan’s Greenmen earned the "treat" of playing the Red Raiders after dismantling a Twinsburg squad by a 9-1 count in the opening round of the Kent district tournament. The contest took place Tuesday at Kent State University Ice Arena.
With the resounding win, Aurora is scheduled to play second-seeded Shaker Heights Saturday in the second round at 5:15 p.m.
The Greenmen, the 16th seed in the district, dominated from start to finish against the Tigers and increased their win total to an impressive 17.
So what gives?
Why on earth would the longtime Aurora head man be so apprehensive of his team’s next opponent?
Let’s just say the Red Raiders are pretty good. In fact, they’re very, very good.
Shaker has won four state titles in its illustrious history and had been a force in the Red North Division for many years. The Red Raiders now make their home in the murderer’s row of powerhouses in the Great Lakes Hockey League.
The Greenmen, who play in the lower-level Blue North Division, will probably feel like Gideon’s army of 300 when they take the ice against the Red Raiders’ nearly invincible 135,000 Midianite soldiers.
Of course, legend has it that Gideon conquered the Midianites because he had Jehovah on his side.
Will the Aurora players have an almighty figure guiding their every move against a formidable Shaker squad that shows no mercy for the weak?
"The stars have to be lined up right," Sheridan said. "They’re a higher level up and they’re a strong program."
Jack Pfiffner, on the other hand, is looking forward to playing the role of Moses against the imposing Pharoah disguised as Red Raiders.
Perhaps the Aurora senior captain is naive? Maybe.
However, miracles do happen, right? A monumental upset wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility, would it?
"It’s going to be a fun experience," Pfiffner said. "You learn a lot when you play games like that. We’re looking forward to the challenge."
Sheridan is looking forward to seeing Shaker, too. Nonetheless, the dry-witted Greenmen coach is a man who feels more comfortable dealing with realism rather than romanticism.
"Maybe we can pull a miracle," Sheridan said.
It has happened.
Remember Broadway Joe leading the New Yorks Jets over the stacked Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III?
What about an also-ran named James "Buster" Douglas, who shocked the world when he knocked out the "Baddest Man on the Planet" nearly 30 years ago in Tokyo?
Maybe the Aurora players would be wise to take former world wrestling champion Ric Flair’s advice.
"In order to be the man, you have to beat the man!" The Nature Boy once proclaimed.
"It will be a good experience for us to see how the big boys play," Sheridan said.
Win or lose, the Greenmen have plenty of reasons to feel good about themselves. Despite losing some talented players from last season, Aurora has experienced its most successful season in quite awhile.
And maybe, just maybe, the Greenmen can write the script for a famous sequel to a riveting movie that unexpectedly hit theaters 39 years ago.
Miracle on Ice, part II.
"Obviously, people will tell us to pack our bags," Sheridan said. "You never know. If the U.S. can beat the Russians in ‘80, I guess we can beat Shaker in 2019."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.