Nordonia hockey team ends Baron Cup drought, beats Twinsburg
BROOKLYN — Nordonia and Twinsburg are backyard rivals, but their hockey teams have been missing each the past two seasons.
When the Tigers were promoted to the Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League's Blue North Division two seasons ago, they moved away from the Knights in division play.
This winter, the situation reversed, as Nordonia moved up to the Blue North and Twinsburg dropped to the Blue South.
The teams finally saw each other again Wednesday at the Brooklyn Recreation Center in a Baron Cup III opening-round game.
Going by records, one might think the seven-win Tigers would have had the advantage over a one-win Knight team.
The Knights had other ideas.
Nordonia wasn't at its sharpest, but the Knights had too much firepower for the Tigers in a 4-1 win.
It was the first Baron Cup win in a decade for Nordonia and the first of coach Rich Cinalli's tenure. The Knights advanced to play Lakewood on Friday in a Cup quarterfinal game.
"We were a bit slow out of the gate, but we controlled the first period," Cinalli said. "In the second period, our forecheck really got going. We were forcing them to make a lot of passes."
Tigers coach Mike Johnston said the effort was there from his team.
"I thought we played the first period a bit slow, but we were able to match them later," Johnston said. "I thought we had opportunities, but you've got to be able to score when you have chances."
Nordonia made certain to keep an eye on Tiger senior Anthony Sciarabba, who was the Tigers' top scoring threat throughout the game.
"They moved him around all over the place," Cinalli said. "We were aware of where he was at all times. Our biggest thing was to make sure no one got behind us."
Nordonia shut down the Twinsburg offense in the first two periods and the Knights finished with a 32-24 edge in shots on goal.
Johnston said senior goalie Mark Schroeder kept the Tigers in the game early. Schroeder finished with 28 saves and Nordonia goaltender Tommy Lippincott finished with 23 saves.
Schroeder's efforts and Nordonia's pedantic offense kept things scoreless until the Knights got the first of three goals off the face-off.
Nordonia center Brian Sebastian won a draw cleanly in the Twinsburg end and fed the puck to Owen Tindall at the back post. Tindall popped the shot past Schroeder, giving the Knights a 1-0 lead with 3:07 left in the first period.
Sebastian and fellow Knight center Matt Monaco each had two assists.
Still leading 1-0 after one period, Nordonia doubled its lead off another face-off with 13:33 left to go in the second.
Monaco won the draw and fed the puck to defender Dan Kimpton at the point. Kimpton rifled a shot into the net to make it 2-0.
Twinsburg had a chance to get back in the game when Nordonia was called for the game's lone penalty with 11:29 left in the second period.
But he Knights allowed only one Tigers shot on the power play and went to the second intermission ahead 2-0.
Cinalli warned his troops to expect the Tigers to come out firing early in the third period and that's exactly what happened.
Twinsburg's best offensive spell took place during the first five minutes of the third period. The Tigers put up 13 of their 24 shots in the final period.
That pressure paid off with 10:30 left in the game, as Sciarabba was able to beat Lippincott high to the glove side. Colby Smith and Brian Nesic were credited with assists.
After the goal, the Knights were able to reassert themselves.
Nordonia restored its two-goal lead with 5:36 left when Sebastian fed the puck from behind the net to Kimpton, who slammed it home. It was Kimpton's first two-goal game of the season.
"Dan just took over down low in the third period," Cinalli said. "He parked himself by the net and our forwards rotated back to the point. He worked it well."
Nordonia put the game out of reach with a goal from an unlikely source with 2:44 left. Monaco won another face off and fed the puck to junior Xavier Tedor, who put it in from the back post.
Cinalli was happy, saying Tedor spent much of his first season with the Knights learning how to skate.
"Xavier is a player who has gotten so much better this year," Cinalli said. "He was in the right place at the right time."