PARMA — Stow-Munroe Falls and Nordonia have been rivals in nearly every sport the Ohio High School Athletic Association sponsors.
On Monday, the two high schools met for the first time in a new sport: Ice hockey rink.
In the first ice hockey game between the two schools, Stow got three goals in the third period to score a 3-2 win over the Knights. The contest took place at the Michael Ries Ice Rink in Parma as the final game for both teams in Normandy Christmas Tournament.
The loss cost the Knights a chance at the tournament title, as Nordonia went 1-2 in the tournament. Nordonia lost 8-2 to Normandy in its opening game Friday, but rebounded with a 2-1 win over Lakewood Saturday at Ries.
The Knights’ record moved to 5-4-1 on the season.
The weekend was even more grueling for the Bulldogs, who played five games in a four-day stretch.
After losing its tournament opener 4-1 to Lakewood Friday morning, Stow took on Aurora and lost 3-1 Friday night at The Pond in Auburn. On Saturday, Stow dropped a bruising 7-2 loss to Normandy at Ries, as the Bulldogs also lost center Reece Hricik to a broken wrist.
However, the Bulldogs were able to rebound and score a 7-0 win over Twinsburg Sunday at the Kent State Ice Arena. Stow’s record moved to 9-7 on the season.
Playing its first year as a club team, Stow coach Ryan Schelien could only smile when reflecting on his squad’s efforts, as Stow was down to nine able-bodied players by the time it faced Nordonia.
"It’s been a crazy year so far, not only with ups and down, but everything in between," Schelien said. "What’s nice about this team is, no matter if we have eight, nine or 10 players, they are definitely playing for each other."
While the Knights have a deeper bench than Stow, Nordonia coach Rich Cinalli said his team burned its legs out early Monday, which led to the late goals.
"I think it started in the first period," Cinalli said. "I counted that we had 14 missed break-out passes from our own end. Because of that, we ended up chasing the puck around instead of passing it around."
Cinalli noted, while the Bulldogs had the shorter bench, Stow was not a team that lacked quality players like some of its Blue South Division foes.
"They’ve got skaters," Cinalli said. "They don’t have many, but they all contribute."
The game started well for Nordonia, as junior center Brian Sebastian put a shot home for a close angle with 12:56 left in the first period off an assist from defender Kenton Carrell.
Stow then found itself in trouble, as forward Christian Gier was hit with a five-minute major penalty for boarding.
"That same penalty cost us two goals Saturday," Schelien said. "This time, it didn’t cost us anything."
Indeed, Stow finished the game a perfect 5-of-5 on the penalty kill.
The score stayed at 1-0 Knights through the first and second intermission, thanks in large part to Nordonia goaltender Tommy Lippincott. Lippincott kept the Bulldogs scoreless through two periods, despite Stow outshooting Nordonia 25-16 through the second intermission.
Lippincott finished with 35 saves on 38 Stow shots, while Stow goalie Aidan Gorr had 26 saves on 38 Nordonia shots.
"Tommy Lippicott had the best weekend of his high school career," Cinalli said. "He was absolutely great in all three games."
"I thought we had the puck in their end a lot; we just couldn’t find a way past their goaltender," Schelien said.
Stow made an adjustment to push sophomore defender Jack Schelien up to put more pressure on Nordonia’s defense.
The move worked, as Stow broke through with 11:27 left in the third, as Gier scored from close range on assists from Jack Schelien and Nathan Kingston.
Stow kept the pressure constant until it took the lead with 5:40 left, as Jake Riegler scored off an assist from Jack Schelien.
The Bulldogs then took command with the lone power-play goal of the game. With Nordonia’s Nate Owen sitting due to interference, Bulldogs senior Evan Taylor streaked down the left side of the ice and scored an unassisted goal with 4:24.
Nordonia did not give up and was able to pull one goal back in the last minute of the game. After pulling Lippincott, Kenton Carrell scored a goal off a rebound with 47 seconds left, thanks to assists from Nate Juchnik and Dan Kimpton.
When Taylor was called for a two-minute elbowing penalty with 22 seconds left, the Knights closed the game with a 6-on-4 advantage, but could not find the tying goal.
"I’m looking forward to playing them again," Cinalli said, said afterward, noting Stow will host Nordonia on Feb. 2.
Nordonia was set for another tournament after Christmas, as it was set to play at the Avon Lake Invitational Friday and Saturday at Winterhurst. The Knights will face three straight White Division teams taking on Avon Friday at 4 p.m. Avon Lake Saturday at 10:40 a.m. and Aurora Saturday at 4 p.m.
"It’s another step up for us," Cinalli said.
The Knights will travel to Brooklyn Jan. 2 at at 8:45 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs will next see action in 2020, as they will play a home-and-home series with Shaker Heights JV team. Stow hosts Shaker at the KSU Ice Arena Jan. 4 at 4:20 p.m. before facing the Red Raider at Thornton Park Jan. 5 at 6:15 p.m.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_GHO