Aggressive Nordonia ice hockey loses in overtime to NDCL

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies

AUBURN TOWNSHIP — Nordonia hockey coach Rich Cinalli doesn't shy from one fact: His Knights have about as much finesse as a sledge hammer.

"We're a strong-to-the-puck team," Cinalli said. "We play with an aggressive forecheck. That's our identity.

"We play with a lot of emotion, which I love," he added. "We just have to play with a little bit more control."

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The pros and cons of the Knights' style were on display Dec. 12 when Nordonia traveled to The Pond in Auburn to take on Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin.

The Knights powered their way to the early lead, but the Lions rallied with power-play goals in the third period and overtime to score a 2-1 win.

On Dec. 13, the Knights returned to their home rink played at Gilmour Academy to take on Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy. Nordonia played well in a 4-2 loss.

Nordonia dropped to 0-6 on the season, having also lost to the Lions 6-4 during the Nordonia Thanksgiving Tournament. NDCL improved to 2-2.

Cinalli noted the Knights did a solid job in every facet of the game — except putting the puck in the net.

"We outshot them. We hit the post a couple times," Cinalli said. "Their goaltender made some excellent saves. We worked the power play pretty well, but we just couldn't find a way through."

NDCL coach Bernie Kosloski said the Knights came out on fire.

"They had three guys that were really high up against us on the forecheck," Kosloski said. "We were holding onto the puck too long and not getting rid of it."

The problem with the Knights' aggressive style was Nordonia earned 21 minutes worth of penalties, compared to six minutes for NDCL.

The total included three 5-minute majors for boarding on the Knights and a 5-of-3 situation in the third period.

"Our penalty kill did a good job overall," Cinalli said. "Some of those calls were a bit rough."

The Knights may have come out strong because of an impromptu pregame ceremony. Nordonia's captains had to deliver the runner-up trophy from the Thanksgiving Tournament to NDCL.

Nordonia got off to a perfect start. At the 12:03 mark of the first period, Nordonia assistant captain Carson Carrell fed a pass to winger Max Zuschin, who skated the length of the ice before firing a shot past NDCL goaltender Devin Jost on the glove side.

From that point on, however, Jost was unbeatable. He finished with 33 saves, including fending off a couple of Knight breakaways.

"They had a lot of opportunities that they put wide," Kosloski said. "When we needed him to, Devin made some very good saves."

For most of the game, Knight goalie Tommy Lippincott was just as sharp. Lippincott finished with 24 saves.

Nordoni finished with a 34-26 edge in shots on goal.

"Tommy kept us in the game for long stretches tonight," Cinalli said.

Nordonia also had no luck in front of net. Carrell had shot in the second period carom off the inside of the post.

Thus, the score remained 1-0 through the first and second intermissions before NDCL tied it, thanks to their fastest player.

Nordonia was able to kill off its 5-on-3 situation, but the Lions finally broke through with 6:18 left to go in the third period.

After several near misses, NDCL forward Anthony Guidice skated in and scored off an assist from Nathan Lah. The goal came with Knight defender Dan Kimpton in the box for boarding.

"We knew who we had to keep an eye on," Cinalli said of Guidice.

"He dominates the ice with his speed," Kosloski said. "They did a nice job against him most of the night."

Nordonia had a chance to win in regulation when Lah was given two minutes for slashing with 1:23 left.

However, the Knights could not find a way past Jost.

In overtime, Carrell had a golden chance to end it early, as he skated in on breakaway. However, his high shot was denied by Jost's left shoulder.

Not long after, Carrell was penalized with his second boarding call of the game.

"I knew it was going to be hard to kill off that last penalty," Cinalli said. "We were getting tired."

The Knights fended off several attacks before Guidice took matters into his hand.

Stealing the puck at mid-ice, Guidice skated in on goal and beat Lippincott with a low shot, ending the contest with 2:18 left in overtime.

Despite the loss, Cinalli said the Knights' level of play proves they belong in the Blue North Division.

"We're playing with everyone that we've faced so far," Cinalli said. "We're getting better."

Against CVCA, Cinalli said the Knights played much better then their season opener against the Royals, cutting down on penalties and not conceding a power-play goal.

Carrell and Anthony Stutler each scored for Nodonia. Anthony Rock had 2 assists and Matt Monacco had one assist. 

Lippincott had 21 saves vs. CVCA.

The Knights will next play Dec. 10 at 7:10 p.m. at Gilmour vs. rival Mayfield.