Varsity Hockey · Pirates battle back, down Bombers, 5-2

CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio – Rocky River rallied from a first-period deficit and with strong play over the game’s second and third frames, defeated host Kenston, 5-2, in Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League Red North Division play on Saturday night.

The Pirates got goal from five different players in the contest; Luke Witzigreuter led the attack with three points (goal, two assists). River’s five goals in the key division matchup mark the team’s most in a single game since Dec. 15. With the victory, the Pirates (12-8, 3-1 GCHSHL Red North) snap a two-game losing skid, and they did so against a Kenston (18-4, 2-3) squad which rattled off 14 straight wins from Dec. 8-28.

“We came out a little flat tonight,” said Head Coach Chris Cogan, “but we eventually picked up our play at both ends of the ice.”

Rocky River opened Saturday’s contest by trading one goal for two in the opening period. Kenston tallied an even-strength goal at the 7:19-mark and a power-play goal at 5:02. The Pirates cut into half that deficit with Ethan Routenberg’s second goal of the season at 4:12. Fine puck movement in the offensive zone led to Routenberg’s goal, a walk-in job off the top-corner crossbar.

Kenston’s first-period goals were scored by sophomore forward Valentino Carriero and senior defenseman Tyler Holub.

Period No. 2 was all-River. Teddy Stueber’s 20th of the season knotted the game at 2-2 at the 9:45-mark of the second. The Pirates took the lead (3-2) late in the period when Aiden Dempsey patiently drew a man off before going top-shelf for his 11th of the year.

The Maroon & White added two power-play goals (Tommy Kelly, Luke Witzigreuter) early in the third for good measure, and the Pirates closed out the road win by holding the Bombers to just five shots on goal in the final 15 minutes. For the game, Rocky River outshot Kenston, 36-21.

“We’ve worked hard on the power play lately,” said Cogan. “It was good to see a couple goals come there.”

Senior Ryan Dunning went the distance between the pipes for the Pirates; he made 19 saves.

“This was a couple big points to stay in the mix at the top of the division race,” said Cogan, whose 3-1 Pirates trail only Shaker Heights (4-0) in the Red North. “We have another huge division game [Sunday].”




SMOOTH SAILING: With Saturday’s road victory in tow, the Pirates have now gone 12-0-1 vs. Kenston since 2000. Over those 13 games, River has tripled up the Bombers, 77-25, in goals. … Rocky River went 2-of-4 on the powerplay in Saturday’s game, marking the team’s first multi-goal special-teams effort since Nov. 26.

DEEP BLUE(LINE): Ethan Routenberg (goal), Frankie Lord (assist) and Tommy Kelly (goal) provided a lift from the blue line on Saturday, something Head Coach Chris Cogan has been working toward with this year’s unit. “We got some good looks and quality shots from our defensemen tonight,” said River’s bench boss. “We’ve been talking about getting more offensive production from those guys.”

NEXT WAYPOINT: The Maroon & White will look to exact a measure of retribution for a Dec. 17 tournament-finale, overtime loss with a 4:15 p.m. home game against Mentor on Sunday. The Cardinals topped the Pirates, 2-1, in the title game of last month’s Thornton Park Tournament in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Rocky River is 6-0 this season on home ice.

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