by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
They had a long ride home and were probably completely exhausted.
In the end, it all worked out quite nicely.
The Explorers are in first place.
The Hudson ice hockey team improved to 13-6-2 overall and 5-1-1 in the Red North East Division after posting a 3-1 victory over Parma Heights Holy Name Jan. 13 at Michael A. Ries Ice Rink in Parma.
It was the Explorers' third game in three days. While it may have been grueling, Hudson picked up three critical division wins to move on top of the division standings. Walsh Jesuit, which Hudson defeated 1-0 Jan. 12 at Kent State University Ice Arena, is in second place with a 3-1-1 record. All the other teams in the division have at least two losses.
"We knew it was going to be rough," Explorers' first-year head coach Bobby Lyle said. "We did the things we needed to do. All season long, I've preached the little things: Getting the puck out, killing penalties and blocking shots."
They did all those things during their three-day marathon.
Against Holy Name, Bo Lori scored two goals and Chris Warfield added one goal for Hudson.
Brent Zubal, Pat Jones, Zach Thibault and Connor Ganley each had an assist for the Explorers and goaltender Grayson Kotseos made 22 saves.
"Grayson was awesome again," Lyle said. "Chris Warfield's goal was huge in the first period. It took a little more pressure off our top time."
Against Walsh, Lori scored a power-play goal with 13 minutes, 27 seconds left in the game. Connor Ganley and Brendan Nenni were each credited with an assist on the goal. Explorers goaltender Grayson Kotseos made 34 saves in the nets.
"Walsh was a very emotional game," Lyle said. "The kids have played against each other growing up. We took care of our zone and blocked shots. Grayson played great. Our motto is, 'If the puck is on your stick in our zone, you've got to find a way out."
On Jan. 11 in Parma, Hudson, which is 5-0-2 in its last seven games, posted a 5-2 win over Padua Franciscan.
Lori led the Explorers with three goals and John Calabro and Zach Thibault each had one.
Ganley finished with three assists and Thibault and Calabro each had two assists. Lori also had one assist.
Kotseos made 19 saves and Austin Ganley stopped four shots for Hudson.
"Padua scored 17 seconds into the game," Lyle said. "It was not the way we wanted to start. We rebounded well. We scored four power-play goals. It was one of those games where we took advantage of our opportunities."
The Explorers are scheduled to play in the Walsh Tournament Jan. 17, 19 and 20 at Kent State.
Hudson is set to open tournament play with Gates Mills Gilmour Academy Jan. 17 at 7:15 p.m.
The Explorers are set to play Walsh (1:45 p.m.) and Shaker Heights (9:15 p.m.) Jan. 19.
"It should be another really competitive weekend against some top-notch teams," Lyle said. "It would be great if we win, but it's more of how we're going to match up against some of the teams in our district."