Nordonia ice hockey opened its season Friday by taking on a team nicknamed the Rockets at the newly-renamed Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland.
Perhaps it wasn’t surprising the Knights opened the season with a bang.
Nordonia exploded for eight goals in the first period of its opener and never looked back, crusing to an 11-1 win over Bay Village Bay.
It was a dominant performance against a fellow Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League Blue Division foe. Knights coach Rich Cinalli noted his team got off to the perfect start.
"We came out firing," Cinalli said. "They were really ready to go. We couldn’t have played a better first period to start the season. We played very well the whole game."
Cinalli noted a combination of the Knights’ hot start and Bay’s youth led to the rout.
"Bay is rebuilding for sure. I think they lost a few of their players. They did lose there goalie, who was a senior," Cinalli said. "We’ve all been there where you lose a goaltender to graduation and have to scramble a bit."
The game only lasted two full periods as Nordonia scored enough to invoke the 10 goal mercy rule.
The Knights’ top star of the game was junior captain Carson Carrell, who put up five goals in the win.
"He was in the right place at the right time," Cinalli said. "He did what he needed to.
Our defense, it didn’t make too many mistakes. They were making passes and getting forward. A lot of the goals came from passes from the defense. It wasn’t just one man beating the entire team.
Junior forward Anthony Stutler added two goals for the Knights, while defenders Josh Krysinski and Kenton Carrell each scored once, as did forwards Max Zuschin and Anthony Rock from Nordonia’s third forward line.
Starting center Brian Sebastian dished out three assists, while Kenton Carrell had two assists.
Center Matt Monaco, winger Nate Juchnik defender Daniel Kimpton and Krysinski each added one assist.
"Our first line, they came out early in the first period," Cinalli said. "A lot of our guys saw ice time and played well. It will pay dividends for us go going forward.
"Our forecheck was there," he added. "We played fast and did not play down to a team that was rebuilding. That’s something we didn’t do last year. They were very professional about it. There were no silly penalties."
Nordonia goaltender Tommy Lippincott nearly had a shutout, as he made six saves on the night. Bay got its lone goal in the first period, after the Knights were already up 7-0.
"It’s hard when you’re not getting a lot of action and something’s coming at you," Cinalli said of Lippincott. "He’ll see a lot more action this weekend."
The Knights will host the Nordonia Thanksgiving Tournament Friday and Saturday at Gilmour Academy. Nordonia faces Parma Friday at 1:45 pm, Aurora Saturday at 12:10 p.m. and Westlake Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
Cinalli said the Knights are read to take on the three teams from high divisions in the GCHSHL.
"This is what we want," Cinalli said. "I think we’re ready for the challenge."