Story by Jim Horvath
Photos and video by Larry Bennet
Through the first period of play, Strongsville and Rocky River skated to a scoreless tie as both teams found the scoring opportunities few and far between.
That all changed in the second period. The Pirates exploded for six goals in the period and went on to earn a convincing 8-1 win over the visiting Mustangs Saturday afternoon at Hamilton Ice Arena.
The Pirates began the second period with a power play opportunity that began late in the first. Just 33 seconds into the second, junior Cam Heider took a pass from senior Logan Drell and flicked the puck past Strongsville goalie Nike Starr for the first goal of the game.
Then 22 seconds later, Heider struck again. He scored his second goal with assists from senior Matt Forlini and sophomore Matt Goepfert, and the Pirates were on their way. Then with 7:00 left in the period, Rocky River got another power play when senior wing Mike Ittu scored off assists from Drell and fellow senior Tommy Robenalt.
Defensively, the Pirates and goalie Ryan Kostelnik held until Strongsville scored a power play of its own at the 4:58 mark. Noah Oblak got the Mustangs on the board, with the assists coming from Stephen Supanich and Kyle Suts,
But the Pirates answered with flurry of goals in the final 2:11 to virtually put the game away. River scored a transition goal as Drell found junior Jack Mallett, then Mallett scored again off a Heider assist with 23.6 ticks left on the clock. And as the final second came off the clock, Drell got his first goal to make it 6-1 heading into the intermission.
River tacked on a pair of goals in the third period against Strongsville's backup goalie, Zach Maxwell. Robenalt scored on a slap shot, then senior Jack Gerlack capped things off with a goal in the game's final minute. For the game, the Pirates outshot the Mustangs 36-25.
Strongsville will travel to Columbus this coming weekend to play in the Midwest Thanksgiving Classic. The Mustangs will open with Sycamore Friday at 4:15 p.m. at Chiller Ice Works.
Rocky River remains at home to host the Rocky River Thanksgiving Classic. The Pirates will take on Olmsted Falls Wednesday at 4:45 p.m. in an opening round game.
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