Hudson ice hockey shows signs of growth in Baron Cup win over Strongsville
BROOKLYN — If you're looking for signs of growth in the Hudson ice hockey program this year, look no further than the Explorers' Baron Cup game against Strongsville Wednesday night.
The Explorers pulled away with a 6-0 win and were aggressive with their attack from the start. After getting 12 shots on goal in the first period compared to Strongsville's two, Hudson kept up the pressure and ended the game with a 38-6 advantage.
"Normally we start off slow, and today we got off to a good start and got a couple of goals right away," Hudson coach Mike McNeill said. "It gave us a good chance to get going.
"At the beginning of the year we had a hard time scoring goals. We've won our last four straight now, we've been able to put some goals together and play a little better as a team. With not practicing a lot this year, that's tough. Working together, that comes from practices, constant repetitions. We just haven't had it. I think we're starting to put it together a little bit now."
Like most area teams, Hudson (8-6-2) has had to contend not just with opponents on the ice, but with the COVID-19 pandemic. After getting in one game to start the season in November, the program was forced to quarantine after a positive case on the team. In December, the district paused all athletics.
On top of all the pauses, the Explorers had to find a new practice rink with Kent State's being closed for the season.
McNeill is also the director of the Gilmour Academy Ice Arena in Gates Mills, however, and so he has been organizing practices there at 5:45 in the morning. Oftentimes, according to senior captain Jonah Karnofel, that means wakeup calls as early as 3:55 a.m.
"It's just something we can bond over and especially going to practices that early," he said. "Let's be real, nobody wants to get up that early. As a team, it's just something we can get through together, and I think that's something that's really helped mold us as a team, and that's also why I think we've been performing so well the last few games."
Sullivan Clark led Hudson on Wednesday night with two goals in the shutout win. Sam Zulandt had a goal and an assist, and Karnofel and Alec Dickens each had two assists.
Alex Movshin, Ty Koerbel and Andrew Clark got the other goals for the Explorers and Ian Ludewig and Jack Divine notched one assist apiece.
Sullivan Clark, also a senior captain, acknowledged the difficulties that have come with playing so few games at this point in the season.
"We kind of have a younger team, and we've only played about 15 games," he said. "Usually by now we're playing 30. So we've gotten into it a little bit, but it kind of took us a while. I think overall with more games we've played, the better we get."
The Baron Cup win also came on the heels of Hudson's 2-1 overtime win over Mentor on Saturday, the Explorers' first such victory of the season, and another impressive mark with the postseason looming.
Although the Explorers are finally starting to put some things together, they also now have more mental toughness because of all the adversity they have faced.
"I think we just feel like every game, we have to take it like it could be our last because of COVID," Sullivan Clark said. "So, you just have to take every game like this is the last time ever."