by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
As long as they stay away from Rocky River, the Explorers look just about unbeatable.
The Hudson ice hockey team won its fourth straight match after posting a 4-2 victory over Red North East Division rival Parma Padua Franciscan Dec. 15 at Kent State University Ice Arena.
With the win, the Explorers improved to 7-3 overall and 2-1 in the division. Padua fell to 2-6 overall and 1-2 in the division. All three of Hudson's losses have been to Red North East foe Rocky River, which has one more division date with the Explorers next month.
But Hudson, which also posted a lopsided 8-1 win over Kent Roosevelt Dec. 14 at Kent State, can worry about the Pirates later. Right now, this team is rolling.
A staunch penalty-killing unit has been the key to the Explorers' success. The Bruins did not score on five power-play opportunities.
"Our penalty-killing has been strong throughout the season," Hudson first-year head coach Bobby Lyle said. "I think they learned from their mistakes from the games against Rocky River."
Anthony Giaimo scored the go-ahead power-play goal for Hudson with 8 minutes, 15 seconds left in the second period. Zach Thibault had the assist.
The Explorers added a crucial insurance goal with 3:54 left in the game when John Calabro scored off an assist from Bo Lori, who had a knack for making things happen whenever he had control of the puck.
"Bo is a player who flies with the puck," Lyle said. "He does a good job of moving his feet. I stress to the kids that good things will happen when you move your feet."
Hudson converted 1-of-3 power-play chances and got a short-handed goal from Lori 11 seconds into the second period.
Joey Szpak had a goal and an assist for Padua. Jimmy Szpak scored the first goal of the game for the Bruins. Brett Bodi also had an assist for Padua.
"Padua is a physical team," Lyle said. "I think they caught us off guard. When they scored that first goal, it woke us up.
Connor Ganley stole the puck and scored Hudson's first goal in the first period. Ganley's goal tied the score at one.
Explorers goaltender Grayson Kotseos made 18 saves. Hudson outshot the Bruins 31-20.
The Explorers had no trouble against Kent.
Lori and Calabro each had three goals and Brady Edwards and Mikey Gaffney each scored once. Lori and Ganley added two assists apiece and Thibault and Matt Murphy each had one. Kotseos had 17 saves on 18 shots.
Hudson scored five unanswered goals in the third period.
"We started off pretty slow," Lyle said. "In the third period, we were able to pop a few in the net. All 20 players saw action. We just need to play three periods of hockey."
The Explorers are scheduled to play at the Thornton Park Tournament Dec. 20, 22 and 23 in Shaker Heights.
They are set to open tournament play against Strongsville Dec. 20 at 7:30 p.m.