BROOKLYN, Ohio – Rocky River ended its season with a Brooklyn
State Qualifying Tournament semifinal loss to St. Edward on Saturday
Unable to capitalize on early looks at the net and in four power-play opportunities and unable to neutralize the Eagles’ team speed, the Pirates fell, 6-1. St. Edward (24-8-3) outshot Rocky River, 36-27, and scored two goals in the first period, three in the second and one in the third. The Eagles – 8-1 over their last nine games -- now advance to the bracket final where they will face the St. Ignatius Wildcats. For the Pirates (24-9-3), a high-scoring and highly successful season ended on the ice surface at the Brooklyn Recreation Center.
That the Eagles made it through the early minutes Saturday without River scoring was a key to their taking the momentum of the contest and keeping it. From the opening puck drop and for five minutes of game time, the Pirates controlled play in the vicinity of the Eagles’ cage. But that cage was protected by St. Edward goaltender Nate Cappellazzo, who turned aside more than a few quality shots in keeping the early score knotted at 0-0.
And then, with momentum turning as fast as a loose puck bounding off the sideboards and toward center ice, it was St. Edward’s turn. On a play that started in that fashion, Jack Mansour hurtled up ice on a breakaway and deked his way to a goal at 9:59 of the first. The play marked a shift in the energy of the game, and it would also be a portent of things to come – with the Eagles' neutral-zone speed opening up more opportunities than the Pirates could parry away.
Sixty-seven seconds later, the Eagles scored on another breakaway – on a shot initially stopped by goaltender Ethan Mylett but rebounded and slapped across the goal line by Noah Schultz. St. Edward killed off a penalty and finished the opening period with a 2-0 lead.
The early minutes of the second went sideways for the Maroon & White. The Eagles scored on a 45-footer at the 12:49 mark. For a second time in the game, less than 70 seconds passed before the green-and-gold-draped No. 2 seed was filling the net again. With those goals – by Carson Kostka and Sean Kolenich – the Eagles extended their lead to 4-0.
Rocky River finally answered when Luke Mallett scored his
fifth goal of the tournament (and his 25th of the season) on a rifle-sniper
shot from the right circle at 10:13 of the second.
But the jolt of energy that brought the No. 3-seed Pirates wouldn’t have much of a shelf life. Over the final nine minutes of the second, River would be undone by a momentum sandwich: two failed power plays split by an Eagle goal.
The Eagle goal was scored – on another breakaway – moments after the first power play had ended. And it was the man sprung from the penalty box – Jacob Dobrowsky -- taking a pass in stride and planting it in the net. The River power play had been a two-minute barrage of scoring chances but with none finding twine. The Dobrowsky goal was followed by another scoreless extra-man chance for the Pirates.
In all, that stretch would be four minutes of things melting
away too quickly for the Sons of Blackbeard. Cappellazzo made 14 saves in the
period. A couple of those were pucks the Pirates desperately needed to find
The Eagles rounded out the scoring with a power-play goal in
the third. For the game, St. Edward went 1-for-3 with the man advantage and
4-for-4 on the kill.
Throughout, Rocky River got heady takeaways and blocked shots by Ethan Routenberg and Brodie Reid on the back end and nifty glove-stick-and-blocker work from an under-duress Ethan Mylett. The Pirates got physical play all over the ice from James Byall, Logan Fortune, and Matt Stueber, and quality playmaking up front from Danny Asmar, Luke Mallett and Reece Rochester.
Still, the Pirates got beat by a talented St. Edward squad playing better hockey the older this winter gets. Look for shame in that last sentence, and you won’t find it.
The Pirates averaged 6.1 goals per game in 2019-20, their most in a single season since 2011-12 (7.2). The team’s 24 victories mark the program’s most since 2014-15 (28). While those are just numbers, they are impressive ones, nonetheless. The young men that produced them are more impressive still.
From November-to-now, they gave a game effort. One worthy of the sport’s most simple yet sincere salute:
by Skip Snow
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