TOLEDO, Ohio – Rocky River had its win streak snapped at four Tuesday, as the Pirates fell, 6-3, to the Knights of St. Francis de Sales High School. In a three-act play of sorts, the Men in Maroon fell behind early, battled back to a mid-game tie and then faltered late against a quality foe that figures to play a significant role come state playoff time.
The Pirates (4-2) were a minus-11 in the game’s turnover battle, committing 25 miscues to the Knights’ 14. And special teams loomed large – Rocky River went 0-for-3 on a trio of extra-man opportunities; St. Francis went 2-for-2. One of those man-up goals came in a decisive third period that saw the Knights (4-2) outscore the Pirates, 3-0.
For the game, the program that ousted River from the 2016 state tournament and went on to finish as the Division II runner-up outshot the Pirates, 36-25. The Knights put 12 shots on goal to River’s 10.
The Pirates ceded a two-goal lead to the Knights in a lackluster first quarter that saw the visitors from Rocky River fail to establish much of a presence on offense. The score would remain 2-0 until Jack Aerni found the back of the St. Francis net at 7:39 in the second. Michael Malloy followed Aerni five-and-a-half minutes later when he whistled a lefty missile past the Knights netminder. The two sides went into halftime having split four goals down the middle.
The Knights pulled ahead, 3-2, early in the third and then went up by two (4-2) with their second extra-man goal of the afternoon. St. Francis would score once more in the third and head into the final stanza leading, 5-2. The Knights and Pirates traded lone goals in the fourth, with senior attackman Aaron Kosmerl keeping a now-six game goal-scoring streak alive.
Throughout the contest, Rocky River struggled in transition. River had 12 failed clears in the game and numerous turnovers shortly after successful clears.
One area of strength for the Pirates continues to be the team’s defense. The Knights went into Tuesday’s windswept affair averaging 10.4 goals per game. Their half-dozen goals against Rocky River mark a season low. Junior defenseman Ben FitzGibbon had a big game for the back-liners. FitzGibbon logged six ground balls and four caused turnovers. Max Kovesdy added three ground balls and a pair of caused turnovers. Titus Snavely racked up five ground balls.
The Pirates are slated to continue their season on Thursday when they play host to the Kenston Bombers (7 p.m. opening faceoff after a 5 p.m. JV contest).
FREQUENT FOE: The Pirates have now met the Knights 16 times since the inception of the Rocky River program in 2005. That makes St. Francis the Pirates’ most frequent foe (River has played Bay Village 12 times). With Tuesday’s loss, the Pirates are now 6-8 against the Knights.
A-OK: With his fourth-quarter goal in Toledo, Aaron Kosmerl now has eight goals on the season. Kosmerl leads the team with 15 points (8g, 7a).
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