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Padua prevails 7-2; Pirates' season comes to a close
RR Hockey
BROOKLYN, Ohio (Feb. 22, 2023) -- Rocky River's 2022-23 season came to end Wednesday, as the Pirates were defeated 7-2 by the Padua Bruins in a Brooklyn Region quarterfinal.

Padua outshot River 34-24 for the game and came up big in the back half of the Buckeye State playoff tussle at the John Coyne Recreation Center in Brooklyn. Five of the Bruins' seven goals came after the midpoint of the second period, and a solid Padua defense kept River off the scoreboard in 5-on-5 play.

Padua scored the lone goal of the first period when Max Matejcik found twine at the 9:29-mark. The sophomore would go on to figure in three more Bruin goals.

Rocky River got a goal in the second -- Lucas Opdycke from Luke Skapoulas and Owen Toole -- but at the expense of two more Bruin netfinders, and the Maroon & White went into the second intermission down 3-1.

Padua vaulted its lead to three (4-1) when Matejcik planted his second of the night barely four minutes into the final frame. The Pirates had a quick answer: they went on a powerplay on a crosschecking violation 30 seconds later and scored (Jack McCourt from Opdycke and Sean McDonough) their 15th goal of the season with a man advantage.

But the Bruins would have a quick answer themselves, and they lifted the margin back to three (5-2) when Tegan Brown lit the lamp just 18 seconds after the McCourt tally.

Padua got two more goals in the game (Shane Helman, Marcus Kane), and Bruins goaltender Aidan Knox made seven third-period stops, as Padua closed out the 7-2 triumph.

For Buccaneer blueliners, Helman was a bear of an opponent with which to deal. He clocked three goals and as many assists.

Knox finished the contest with 22 saves against 24 shots. River's netminders were Carter Rush and Niko Rose, with Rush taking the lion's share of minutes.

With their victory, the Bruins move on to a Saturday region semifinal against St. Edward. The other Brooklyn Region battle that day will have St. Ignatius taking on Benedictine. So the big footprints in roster construction have not been a hindrance in any way for those four teams.

For the town team in Maroon & White threads, a solid season comes to a close. The Pirates went 16-12-4. River held foes to just 1.91 goals per game. That's the program's best mark since 2013-14 (1.31 GPG).

High school playing careers for Tyler Fortune, Jack McBride, Jack McCourt, Niko Rose, and Owen Toole also came to an end. That group helped Rocky River extricate itself from a December slide that saw the Pirates win just once in a nine-game stretch. The Sons of Blackbeard battled back by going 7-2 in their next nine games.

Their Baron Cup and region-bracket runs were shorter than the Hilliard Boulevard Buccaneers planned. But as those seniors would attest, the road to high school varsity hockey and to late-winter Cleveland-area clashes was rewarding and memorable all the way.


Senior captain Owen Toole's assist Wednesday marked his 20th point of the season (seven goals, 13 assists). The standout River blueliner closed out his career with 12G and 32A. ... Junior A.J. Ritvo finished as the Pirates' leading goal scorer, with his 18G edging Lucas Opdycke's 17G. Opdycke was the team's top point producer with 28. His final point of the season marked the 98th of his career (50G, 48A). ... River's top-scoring newcomer was freshman forward Lucas Konopka, who notched 8G and 9A (17 points).

FINAL TEAM STATS: Rocky River averaged 3.78 GPG while yielding 1.91. The Pirates were not tagged with any penalties in their last three games, and they finished the season with 6.2 penalty minutes per contest. River registered a 22.4% success rate on powerplays and a robust 89.8% mark in killing penalties. Three Buccaneer goaltenders -- with freshman Carter Rush getting the most playing time -- combined on a sparkling .910 save percentage.

by Skip Snow

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