Icers split two games with rival Solon

Brent Flanik
Correspondent
Aurora forward Nathan Funk faces off against the Kenston Bombers.

The Aurora High School ice hockey squad split a pair of games against rival Solon over the past week to put their overall record at 5-3.

On January 24, the Greenmen and Comets met for the first time since Aurora eliminated Solon in the first round of last year’s OHSAA state tournament.

The Comets came out flying, however, netting four quick goals in the first period to take a commanding lead and forcing the Greenmen to try to regroup headed into the middle frame. Aurora junior Mike Mancine cashed in on the power play four minutes into the second period with assists from sophomore Will Genovese and senior Cam Mullin, followed by junior Nathan Funk who scored for the Greenmen six minutes later, this time from sophomore Conor McMahon to cut the Solon lead to 4-2 headed into the third period.

Aurora couldn’t hold onto the momentum, however, as Solon would knock into two more goals in the final period to secure a 6-2 victory.

Loukas Wu led the way on the scoresheet for Solon with two goals and an assist. Josh Salisbury and Zach Nathanson also had two points each.

Aurora forward Zane Martin on the attack against a defender from Orange High School.

Junior goaltender Nolan Sullivan made 28 saves in net for Aurora, and Devon Apanasewicz turned aside 40 shots in goal for the Comets.

The two squads met for a rematch on January 30, and although the Greenmen got off to a better start, Solon once again found the net early in the first period and again three minutes into the second period to go up 2-0.

Mancine finally turned the tide for the Greenmen and jammed home a rebound goal with 30 seconds left in the middle frame to pull Aurora within one goal headed into the locker room.

The Greenmen came out flying in the third, and freshman Will Pfiffner tied the game 90 seconds into the period, followed by Mullin who wristed a goal past Apanasewicz with six minutes remaining to give Aurora the lead for the first time. Two minutes later, Mullin again took control of the puck deep in the Greenmen zone and skated coast-to-coast past all Comet players to net a final insurance tally and secure a 4-2 victory. 

Aurora forwards Mike Mancine and Zane Martin track a puck along the boards against Stow.

Mullin finished with two goals and an assist, Genovese had two assists, and McMahon, senior Drew Pfiffner and sophomore Zane Martin had one assist apiece.

Loukas Wu and Cooper Frazier scored the two goals for Solon

Sullivan turned aside 25 shots in set for the Greenmen, and Apanasewicz made 31 saves in net for the Comets.

“Our first game against Solon we obviously came out flat and they scored four on us quick” said AHS coach John Sheridan. “It was the first time all season where we had such a rough start like that, but even in that game we didn’t give up and battled back, but the early deficit was too much to overcome.

“I knew going into the second game we’d come out much better, and even though Solon had the early lead we got some big goals in the third period and our goaltender made some big saves late, it was a great win.”

The icers will next travel to the Covelli Center in Youngstown on February 4 to play Western Reserve Academy and then will face off against Orange on February 6 at 4:20 p.m. at The Pond.

On February 7, Aurora will begin participation in the Baron Cup II tournament, an annual postseason tournament for all Northeast Ohio area teams divided into three tiers based on regular-season division placement. It is the 50th year for the prestigious Baron Cup tournaments and the sixth consecutive season that the Greenmen have qualified to play. Aurora’s first matchup will be on February 7 at 2 p.m. against Kenston, and a win there would propel them into the second round on February 11 at 8 p.m. against third-seeded Avon Lake, which has a first-round bye. All Baron Cup games are played at John Coyne Recreation Center in Brooklyn. 

Aurora defenseman Will Genovese tries to shoot a puck past the NDCL goaltender as Will Pfiffner and David Brandes look on.