by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Kent -- The Hudson ice hockey team made a herculean effort to rally from a two-goal deficit.
And then, just like that, the Explorers' momentum completely vanished.
Gates Mills Gilmour Academy handed Hudson its first loss in seven games after posting a thrilling 3-2 victory in the opening round of the Walsh Jesuit Tournament Jan. 17 at Kent State University Ice Arena.
The Lancers (11-8) seemed to be in control when Ryan Rowell scored to make it 2-0.
And then something changed for Hudson.
The Explorers stormed back with two goals to tie the game.
Brendan Nenni's shot trickled off Gilmour goaltender Sam Dallas' pad and into the net to tie the game at two with 13 minutes, 15 seconds remaining in the game.
Hudson's momentum turned out to be short-lived.
Seventy five seconds later, Zach Ritter scored the go-ahead goal on a backhanded shot. It was Ritter's second goal of the game.
"That goal kind of deflated our momentum," Explorers head coach Bobby Lyle said. "We had plenty of chances. Overall, though, I was very happy with the way we played. Gilmour is ranked eighth in the state.
Bo Lori, who dazzled the crowd with his nifty stick-handling and end-to-end speed, cut Hudson's lead in half with 2:34 remaining in the second period.
"I actually thought we had some of our better scoring opportunities [Jan. 17]," Lyle said. "We shared the puck and stayed patient. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean anything if you're not putting the puck in the back of the net."
The Explorers (13-7-2) had more chances to score against than the more heralded Lancers. Hudson goaltender Grayson Kotseos stopped 26 shots and Testa made 29 saves.
For the most part, the action was clean as neither team committed too many penalties. The Explorers were 0-of-3 on the power play, while Gimour did not score on two power-play chances.
Hudson also had several chances to tie the game in the final two minutes. But Dallas and the rest of the Lancers' defense had the answer every time.
Connor Ganley and Anthony Giaimo were credited with assists on Lori's goal and Kevin Slane and Brady Edwards each had an assist on Nenni's goal.
The Explorers were scheduled to continue tournament play against Walsh and Shaker Heights Jan. 19. Results of those games were not available at press time. The tournament is set to conclude Jan. 20.
Hudson is schedule to play Walsh Jan. 25 at Kent State. Game time is set for 5:45 p.m.