By Ryan Kaczmarski
The Rocky River varsity hockey team stayed red hot Saturday with a 3-0 win over Strongsville at Iceland USA.
The this was the second league win in two days for the Pirates (after defeating rival Hudson 5-1 on Friday), which are tied atop of the Red North Division of the Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League (GCHSHL) with Shaker Heights at 4-0-1 (the tie was with Shaker Heights).
“It’s all starting to come together,” Rocky River head coach Chris Cogan said. “We’re getting a ton of opportunities offensively, but we’re having a hard time putting stuff away.
“We’re leaving our zone well – making good passes to get out of the zone – and when we get down to the other end, we need to concentrate on putting it in the back of the net.”
The Pirates got on the board at 10:36 in the first period with a goal by junior Jack Mallett (assisted by P.J. Sperli and Cam Heider). Senior Logan Drell found the back of the net on a power play goal in the second period (assisted by Matt Lowry), and senior Tommy Robenalt scored in the third period (assisted by Drell) to cap the score at 3-0.
The loss drops Strongsville to a record of 0-5, but Cogan made sure his team did not look past the Mustangs.
“We’ve been telling the guys all year long, that you have to go in and play every game,” he explained. “You can’t take any shift off, and you have to play 45 minutes every game.”
The Pirates scored on one of its two power play opportunities, but it was the aggressiveness of the penalty killing unit that kept Strongsville off guard.
“We work a lot on special teams in practice,” Cogan said. “We’ve done a very good job at killing penalties this year – unfortunately we’re taking too many penalties and we’re getting better at killing them – but I’d rather be getting better at the power play.
“We pick and choose when we’re going to jump in (and push up the ice on the penalty killing unit), and it hasn’t bit us on the behind yet.”
Rocky River goalkeeper Ryan Kostelnik tallied nine saves, while Strongsville’s Zach Maxwell had 29.
Now that the hockey season is at the half-way point, Cogan is looking to fine-tune the way the Pirates play to get ready for the Baron Cup.
“This next week is going to be a good test for us,” he said. “We have another league game on Friday (at Mentor), so we’ll have a good full week of practice, then a league game and we will play in two tournaments over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend. Those tournaments will be a good test for us, and we’ll see how that works out for us.
“We just need to keep grinding it out.”