Varsity Hockey · Pirates play their Cards right

ROCKY RIVER, Ohio – Showing a depth of production at both ends of the ice for a second straight game, Rocky River defeated Mentor, 4-3, in a Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League Red North Division contest on Sunday.

After getting goals from five different sources on Saturday (a 5-2 win at Kenston), the Pirates (13-8, 4-1 GCHSHL Red North) had four different players notch goals on Sunday.

The visiting Cardinals (14-5, 2-2) held sway in the early minutes of the contest, stringing together multiple chip-and-chase efforts that turned into long possessions in the offensive zone. Senior goaltender Ryan Dunning and the Pirates withstood the charge to keep the game knotted at 0-0. Dunning made a solid save on a point-blank shot at 6:20 and came away with a fine save of a deflected shot at the 5:11-mark. The veteran netminder would finish the first frame with seven saves.

Rocky River broke open the scoring for the game on a powerplay goal by Nolan Weaver at the 2:53 mark. Ethan Routenberg kept a possession alive with a fine play at the right point. Routenberg delivered the puck down the boards on the right side; Weaver came up with the puck in traffic and slipped it by the Cardinal goaltender on a delayed wraparound shot. Dating back to Saturday’s game at Kenston, the goal marked River’s third straight powerplay ending with a score.

A minute-and-a-half after Weaver’s powerplay goal, the Pirates came away with an even-strength marker (Aidan Dempsey from Routenberg) to double their lead. Rocky River took a 2-0 lead into period No. 2.

The Pirates killed off a wraparound penalty early in the second and then upped their lead to 3-0 on Teddy Stueber’s 21st goal of the season. Stueber was on the waiting-in-the-low-slot end of a nifty, last-moment pass from Nolan Weaver who had gotten loose on the left flank after receiving a pass from Routenberg.

Dunning preserved that 3-0 lead with a breakaway save at the 7:10-mark of the second, but that Cardinal-on-the-loose wouldn’t be the only one in front of Dunning in a second period that saw the visitors take over. Mentor scored goals at 5:10 (on a breakaway rebound) and at 3:01 (with heavy traffic on the doorstep), and the two sides went into the second intermission separated by one goal.

In the third, Rocky River killed off a key, 5-on-3 powerplay, preserving the 3-2 lead. Freshman Danny Asmar would give River a bit of cushion on an even-strength-heavy-traffic-in-front-of-the-cage goal at 6:28. Tommy Coughlin and Hayden Weaver were in on the scramble; both were credited with assists.

But the two-goal lead would last for all of 48 seconds: Mentor countered with an even-strength goal at 5:40.

An unsuccessful Pirate powerplay helped kill off a couple minutes and in the final minute, with Cardinals having pulled their goaltender, Dunning came up with a big upper-torso save and two defensemen in front of him – Frankie Lord and Tommy Kelly – came up with big blocked shots.

For the game, Lord was in on numerous big plays defensively. Fellow defenseman Ethan Routenberg finished the game with three assists.

The 4-3 lead was preserved. The victory was certified, and River came away with two key points in Red North play. And the Pirates did it in a one-goal game, a feat which has bee mostly elusive for this squad. Rocky River was 1-5 in one-goal games coming into Sunday’s contest with Mentor.

One of those one-goal losses came at the hands of these same Cardinals. So, credit the Pirates with a measure of retribution.

And a second straight win.

In Sunday’s win, Rocky River went 1-for-3 on the powerplay and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill. The Pirates outshot the Cardinals, 27-25, in running their home ice record to 7-0.



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