Article:Rocky River scores five unanswered goals to stun Holy Name, advance to States


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Holy Name could sense it. They could see the signs on Interstate-71 pointing towards Nationwide Arena in Columbus, the site of the OHSAA State Ice Hockey Tournament.

But five unanswered goals later, it was the Pirates of Rocky River who were instead booking their trip to Columbus, as a blend of spot-on goaltending and capitalization on power plays gave the Pirates a 5-2 victory in the Brooklyn District Final and their first trip to States since 1979.

"I'm so excited for these guys," said Rocky River Head Coach Chris Cogan. "It's been the goal since day one. Getting down there is the first step. The job is not done."

The Green Wave, still floating on cloud nine after their five-overtime thrilling District Semifinal win over St. Edward on Wednesday, came out firing from the first drop of the puck. Junior Alex Bierut kicked off the scoring 8:05 into the game, and Junior Tim Higgenbotham added another goal less than three minutes later to give the Namers a 2-0 lead.

"We jumped on them quick which was nice," said Holy Name Head Coach Tim Sullivan. "But they kept battling back. That's who they are and that's what makes them so tough to be playing against."

The Pirates, coming off a 3-1 upset of top-ranked St. Ignatius on Tuesday, got on the board when a Cam Heider shot bounced off of Namer Goalie Sam Pikus and into the net with 1:30 to play in the 1st. But it was a Green Wave penalty with 18.4 seconds left in the period that would cost the guys in green.

Sophomore Defenseman Matt Lowry sniped one in from the blue line less than a minute into the second period, and suddenly things began to turn in the Pirates' favor.

Rocky River killed off a couple Holy Name power plays throughout the 2nd, and started penetrating the Green Wave defense even more. Pucks were flying at Pikus, but he held his own and it was tied, 2-2, after two.

"We had close games with them," said Cogan, whose team lost to Holy Name three times in the regular season. "We've seen them play and I kept telling the guys all week that we have to play our game. We had to stick to the system, get pucks to the net, and be there for rebounds."

Rocky River kept firing the shots, but none were getting past the seemingly brick wall Pikus was putting up, a Senior goaltender who stopped 74 shots against St. Edward on Wednesday. But another penalty hurt the Green Wave, as Bobby Perez scored what became the winning goal with 11:39 to play on a power play.

"We worked on them a lot," Senior Forward Eric Sperli said of power plays for the Pirates. Sperli had assists on each of the first three Rocky River goals.

"We didnt have any power play goals against Ignatius. We knew special teams were going to be a big part if we were going to win this game. We worked on it this week in practice and it paid off."

Sperli broke the game open with flawless wrister coming with 4:24 to play, giving the Pirates a 4-2 lead. He scored an empty-netter with less than a minute to go to put the icing on the cake and clinch the District Title.

Pikus stopped 38 shots for Holy Name, while Rocky River's Jake Nicholson continued to play well and made 29 saves. The game was a matchup of two Red North East teams (formerly Red South), something one doesn't typically see in a Brooklyn District that has been traditionally dominated by the likes of St. Ignatius, St. Edward, and Padua.

"That's why we play the game," said Nicholson. "You can't count anybody out until the end. As long as you think you can finish it out, there's always going to be an upset somewhere."

Holy Name ends the the most successful season in program history with a mark of 25-11-2. The Green Wave returns much of their scoring from this year's squad, led by Higgenbotham, Joe Meehan, and Jamie Bucell.

"This group of guys worked so hard in the offseason and in the regular season to be able to get to this point, seeing as where we've been and where we've come from," said Sullivan, in his ninth year leading Holy Name. "We made a committment last May and they worked hard about it."

Cogan said himself and the team will enjoy this one for a bit, but they will soon turn their attention to the Raiders of Shaker Heights, whom they will face in the State Semifinal on Friday at Nationwide Arena. The Raiders beat the Pirates, 2-1, in December.

The puck will drop at 1pm on Friday afternoon.


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Did you write this article? If you didn't, you should giver proper attribution to the person who did write it.


New member
I did. Sorry about the confusion, just by knowing I wrote this and making some connections would reveal my identity.


Active member
I did. Sorry about the confusion, just by knowing I wrote this and making some connections would reveal my identity.

No, I'm sorry. It's well-written and I thought it came out of a newspaper from someone else. My apologies.