Rocky River City Schools News Article

Bucs spring Bear trap as River rocks Ottawa Hills 7-4

Rowan McDougal

ROCKY RIVER, Ohio (April 12, 2024) -- It was a wind-swept, winding-momentum clash against a talented Ottawa Hills team Friday at Rocky River Stadium. And for a second straight night against a top-notch foe, a wound-up Pirate squad prevailed. On Friday, the Maroon & White closed out a sweep of their Thursday-Friday non-conference double with a sturdy 7-4 victory over the Ottawa Hills Green Bears.  

Rocky River (8-1) and Ottawa Hills battled high winds throughout and engaged in a patient, defensive struggle. River's three goals in the second period marked the high point of offensive efficiency in a contest that saw long jousts for loose ground balls and stellar goalkeeper saves at both ends. The guardian of the Pirate twine was freshman Gordon Hudson, and he stopped 9-of-13 pellets in the game. That included a 10-bell effort on a Bears' missile at 4:40 of the fourth. Hudson's fine save on that one was followed less-than 30 seconds later by a nifty Rowan McDougal goal -- McDougal's fourth of the evening -- that figured as part insurance/part final nail in the visitor's coffin.

The Pirates' three goal second period sent the home side into halftime leading 5-3. In the third frame, the Sons of Blackbeard showed the visitors it was they who were in for a bear of a game the rest of the way. The two sides combined for 11 total shots and five shots on goal. All five were parried away by the two netminders (Hudson and Ottawa Hills' Ron Root) in a scoreless quarter.

The Green Bears then got a jolt when Christian Craver scored his second goal of the night, a man-up tally two-and-a-half minutes into the fourth. That tightened the screws to 5-4.

But then the Pirates got a monster momentum goal at 8:02, when freshman attackman Michael Bebie rifled a 10-yarder into twine to vault the River lead back to two (6-4). 

McDougal's fourth goal -- an 8-yarder shortly after the key Hudson save -- would come four minutes later. Throughout those four minutes -- and the 40 minutes that preceded them and the four that followed -- Rocky River's defense had a vice grip on the action at its end of the field.

Wind gusts knocked both cages off their moorings on more than a couple occasions. But as it was the night before in a 7-6 win over Wooster, the Buccaneer defense was as solid as a certain spirit rock on Wagar Road and was immovable throughout. 

Starting d-poles Cohen Blair, Trent Delventhal, and Tyler Stanciu blocked a few shots and shouldered more than a few likely good looks into contested-to-the-hilt, desperation ones. Blair filed the bulk of the statistical work, getting eight ground balls and a pair of spills, but that trio moved as one organism fronting Hudson and foiling the Bear attack time and again.

Midfielder William Sawyer was also impactful in the Pirates' own end; he finished the night with four scoops and two spills. Ben Bogre, Charlie Hildebrand, and Andrew Lang were also stalwart defenders for the Double-R. For the game, River was a minus-2 in the turnover exchange (20-18), but Pirate shooters found slightly cleaner looks due to the work of lunch-pail-and-long-pole set wearing home whites.

For the game, Ottawa Hills outshot Rocky River 28-26 (13-12 in shots on goal). The Green Bears took 11-of-15 faceoffs. Ground balls were a near-even exchange when filtering out faceoff results. The Pirates went a robust 22-of-25 in clearing the defensive zone; OHHS went 13-of-18.

McDougal also had an assist on an early Joe Smith goal, so he finished with five points. The senior captain has netted 24 points (16G, 8A) over Rocky River's last five games.

While that makes for an impressive five-game, the team at large can do McDougal one better. With Friday's triumph, the swashbuckling Raiders from River have now won six straight games.

The sixth in that line played out thusly: the wind was gusty; the play was gutsy. And the Sons of Blackbeard battled both Bears and the back end of a bear of a schedule to earn another victory.

by Skip Snow

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