Nordonia ice hockey returns to ice vs. Orange

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies
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AUBURN TWP. — The Nordonia hockey team was happy to be back on the ice Saturday after a two-week break due to COVID-19 positive tests.

However, the Knights were not whole, as starting winger Max Zuschin has been lost for the season while recovering from a collapsed lung.

It was never going to be easy for the Knights to compete with Orange — a member of the GCHGSL's White South Division — after only three days of practice even if they had been at full strength.

The Lions (8-1) roared all over the Knights, skating away with an 8-0 win at The Pond at Auburn.

Did this loss represent a return to the bad old days for the Knights (1-9), who now play in the Blue North Division? Far from it, according to coach Rich Cinalli.

"Overall, I'm pretty happy to see where we're at," Cinalli said. "We're where we want to be. We're really proud of the progress the guys have made. From our first game against CVCA to now, it's night and day."

Cinalli noted the Knights' struggles against the Lions could be attributed to Orange's team speed and Nordonia's lack of game fitness.

"In the first period, we were taking up the space and doing well on the forecheck," he said. "It started out of well for us skating with them. Our conditioning just wasn't there after we had three days of practice after two weeks off. That hurt us as the game went on. By the third period, our legs were just not there."

Orange coach Mike Teplitzky said his team stepped up its game after the first period.

"Our defenders skated the puck out much better after the first period," Teplitzky said. "There was a lot of good passing out there today. If they get two guys up on you and you can make a good pass, that's a 5-on-3 the other way."

The first period was the most even of the three, except for a quick pair of goals for the Lions.

Orange's Jack Stover opened the scoring with 10:48 left in the first. The Knights defense was then caught flat-footed, as Orange scored on a deflected shot by Dillon Fellinger just 14 seconds later.

One area in which the Knights did improve was their discipline, as Nordonia did not commit any penalties.

Orange's lone penalty came with 4:24 left in the first period when Ajay Deshpande was called for interference. However, the Knights were unable to get off a shot during the power play.

Up 2-0 after one, Orange hit the accelerator in the second period and the Knights could not answer. The Lions out shot Nordonia 22-6 in the second period alone.

Orange got its second-period goals from Deshpande with 11:47 left, right wing Zach McCarren with 8:12 left and left wing Jackson Fellinger with 1:52 left.

It was a long afternoon for Nordonia goalie Tommy Lippincott, as the Lions spent most of the game in Nordonia's end. Orange finished with a 46-17 edge in total shots as Lippincott made 38 saves.

"When you've got a lot of traffic in front of the net, that happens," Cinalli said. "It's a little hard to make saves when you can't see where the puck is coming from."

Meanwhile, Teplitzky challenged his team to protect the shutout in the third period. Orange did just that, as goaltender Danny Moore made 17 saves to score his first shutout of the season.

The offense also kept coming for Orange, as Deshpande picked his second goal with 12:47 left in the third to invoke the running-clock rule.

Orange completed the rout as Dillon Fellinger got his second goal with 9:34 left and Stover scored his second with 2:52 left.

Nordonia travels to the Mike Ries Ice Rink to take on Normandy Tuesday, followed a game Jan. 31 at Gilmour Academy against rival Mayfield.