by Frank Aceto | Associate Sports Editor
It started off rather inauspiciously.
But the ending turned out to be pretty satisfying.
The Hudson ice hockey team won the consolation championship at the 43rd annual Thornton Park Tournament. The Explorers (7-4-2) concluded tournament play with a 7-1 victory over Strongsville Dec. 22.
Hudson also posted a 3-1 win over defending state champion Shaker Heights Dec. 21 after losing a 3-1 decision to Bowling Green Dec. 20. Rocky River won the title with a 3-2 double-overtime victory over Bowling Green in the championship game Dec. 22.
Five of the Explorers' seven goals against Strongsville were scored by defensemen. Senior defenseman Zach Thibault led the way with three goals. Bo Lori added two goals.
"Zach was a force all game," Hudson second-year head coach Bobby Lyle said.
Also finding the nets once apiece for the Explorers were Brendan Nenni and Matt Murphy, who also had two assists. Lori, Chandler Kotseos, Brent Zubal, Bret Lindemann and Harry Harr each had one assist.
Hudson goaltender Austin Ganley finished with 22 saves in the nets.
The Explorers' win over Shaker was their first victory over the Red Raiders since 2010. Lori finished with two goals and Zubal scored on assist from Chris Warfield.
"It was a beautiful feed by Chris," Lyle said. "Play was strong and we took care of our zone and buried crucial scoring chances to pull out the victory. Zubal played tough all night, clearing many crucial breakouts and blocking crucial Shaker Heights' shots."
Kotseos finished with two assists and Thibault and Mikey Gaffney each had one assist. Ganley made 27 stops in between the pipes.
Anthony Giaimo scored Hudson's lone goal with 21 seconds left against Bowling Green. Murphy and Nenni were credited with the assists on Giaimo's goal and Ganley made 25 saves.
"We played tough, but we were unable to finish opportunities early on and also ran into a strong opposing goaltender," Lyle said.
Overall, it was a strong performance by the Explorers.
"The line of sophomore Harry Harr, freshman Max Cole and senior Pat Jones had a fantastic weekend, producing many scoring opportunities and provided some essential offensive depth," Lyle said. "Sophomore goalie Austin Ganley was great all weekend and continues to improve. He only gave up five goals on the weekend."
Hudson is scheduled to participate in the Walsh Shootout this week. The Explorers are set to play Walsh Jesuit Dec. 27 at 8 p.m.
They are scheduled to play two games Dec. 28 against Columbus St. Charles (11 a.m.) and Dublin Jerome (9 p.m.). Hudson is set to conclude tournament play against Sylvania Northview Dec. 29 at 11 a.m.