KENT — You could have called her the Great Wall of Northeast Ohio when she took the ice against her Route 82 rivals last month.
Or maybe she created her own version of Area 51 to warn those intrepid souls to think twice about invading her net.
One way or another, the members of the Aurora ice hockey team couldn’t do much damage against Twinsburg’s seemingly bulletproof senior goaltender, Hannah Zochowski, the last time they saw her.
The Greenmen brought much more artillery to the rink Tuesday.
This time, Aurora’s ammunition proved to be way too overwhelming for the Tigers’ talented goalie.
The Greenmen rolled to a lopsided 9-1 victory over Twinsburg in the opening round of the Kent district tournament at Kent State University Ice Arena.
With the win, 16th-seeded Aurora improved to 17-10 overall and earned a date with second-seeded Shaker Heights in the second round. The Tigers, the 18th seed, finished 11-15.
When the Greenmen played Twinsburg Jan. 18 at Dan Kostel Recreation Center in Garfield Heights, Zochowski seemed almost invincible much of the way.
Aurora did pull off a 2-0 victory, but Zochowski made a mind-boggling 52 saves.
On Tuesday, the Greenmen took advantage of an early five-minute major due to a check in the back by the Tigers to, appropriately enough, break Twinsburg’s back not long before all of the fans got comfortable in their seats.
Aurora scored three goals off the power play in a span of just 2 minutes, 8 seconds.
The Greenmen didn’t look back the rest of the way.
“It’s not a good way to start the game,” Aurora head coach John Sheridan said. “I didn’t think it was a major. It was a penalty. I guess any time you take a hit from behind or give one, it comes up and gets you.
“I think we’re just stronger. I don’t know if it would have made that big of a difference.”
The Tigers may have been demoralized by their unfortunate infraction that ignited the Greenmen’s potent scoring attack.
Nonetheless, Sheridan certainly had a case. Aurora dominated Twinsburg from start to finish.
“That put us in a bad way right out of the gate,” Tigers head coach Jim DiRosa said of his team’s early penalty. “It’s tough to battle back from three goals against that team.
“We’re not very deep on the penalty kill. The same guys are out there for five minutes. It’s tough to overcome.”
Twinsburg finally got on the board when senior defenseman Troy Sutliff found the cage nearly halfway into the first period to cut the Greenmen’s advantage to 4-1.
But that goal turned out to be a minor blip in Aurora’s ruthlessly efficient blitzkrieg.
The Greenmen added a goal nearly five minutes later before tacking on four unanswered tallies in the second period to invoke the running-clock rule.
It was that kind of evening for Zochowski and her mates on the back line. They simply couldn’t keep up with their Route 82 neighbors, who finished 3-0 against the Tigers this winter.
“We knew we had to get at her [Zochowski] early,” Sheridan said. “The power play for four or five minutes helped, but I think we came out to get at her. And we got at her.”
Since the puck could be found near their sticks for a large majority of the evening, several Aurora players enjoyed the feast at the supper table.
Sophomore forward Cameron Mullin, the Greenmen’s leading scorer, led the way with two goals and two assists.
Senior forward Jack Pfiffner finished with two goals and one assist and junior forward Jack McElwee added two goals for Aurora.
“It was a good, fun team win,” Pfiffner said. “We got to get everybody in, which is always nice because we have all of these beginners. They get to play in games like this. That’s always fun.”
Junior defenseman Adam Hicks, senior forward Alec Houston and freshman forward Nathan Funk each scored once for the Greenmen.
Junior defenseman Maxx Goldston and freshman forward Mike Mancine each had two assists and junior defenseman Sami Bjelopera had one assist for Aurora.
“The kids played hard,” DiRosa said. “I feel for our seniors. That’s not the way they should have gone out. It is it what it is. You can’t change what happened.
“We have to battle through it, take adversity and move on.”
Zochowski finished with 28 saves. Greenmen senior goaltender Jordan Smith stopped 19 Twinsburg shots.
Zochowski, Sutliff, senior forward Dylan Smith and senior defenseman Jason Buell played in their final game for the Tigers. Twinsburg’s other senior is forward Carson Sayavich, who was unable to play due to illness.
“Our seniors, Jason Buell, Troy Sutliff, Hannah Zochowski and Dylan Smith, played to the best of their abilities [Tuesday],” DiRosa said. “They gave us all they could as they have for the four years here.”
Although they play in different divisions, the battle between the neighboring schools is always a thrill for the players on both teams.
“It is very fun, especially with the rivalries in different sports,” Pfiffner said. “Some sports, Aurora’s better; some sports, they’re better. It’s fun to compete with them.”
The Tigers hope to be far more competitive with the Greenmen when they return to the ice next winter.
While those hopes will have to be put on hold for another several months, DiRosa has certainly appreciated his team’s significant progress in recent years.
“It was a new look for our team,” he said. “We had five players on our team that skated before they got to high school. The rest of them have learned how to skate.”
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.