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KENT — Hudson ice hockey got past backyard rival Western Reserve Academy Jan. 27.
Now its focus is on winning the division title.
The Explorers showed off their team speed, as a hat trick from senior center Max Cole led Hudson to a 7-3 win over the Pioneers Jan. 27 at the Kent State University Ice Arena.
Hudson improved to 21-4-1 and 8-1 in the Red North Division, while WRA fell to 6-13, 0-8 in the Red North.
For Hudson, all eyes now turn to the Explorers’ show down with Rocky River Feb. 4 at 1:50 p.m. at the KSU Ice Arena. Victory would insure the outright Red North title.
An Explorers mistake gave WRA the perfect start to the game.
A Hudson pass in its own defensive zone went right to WRA captain Brett Erskine, who skated in on net and put it home with a backhand shot at the 13:15 mark of the first period.
Hudson, however, had a quick answer. Cole unleashed a slap shot from the blue line, putting it off the crossbar and in with 10:55 left in the first.
It was the start of a big night for Cole, who also scored Hudson’s lone power play goal of the evening with 1:06 left in the first. Cole finished with three goals and an assist.
Hudson took the lead at 8:13 of the first period, thanks to another speedy forward. Senior Chandler Kotseos burst down the right side of the ice and beat WRA goalie Noah Goad with a backhand shot to make it 2-1.
Kotseos also had good night with two goals and two assists.
However, WRA cut Hudson’s lead to 3-2 after one period, thanks to a goal from Jar Darwiche with 55 second left in the first.
Hudson took command of the contest in the second period, thanks to goals from Kotseos (12:13, assist to Luke Karnofel) and Brady Ludewig (8:27, unassisted).
However, WRA had a chance when Erskine was tripped from behind heading into the net with 58 second left in the second. Erskine took the penalty shot himself, but put his shot wide of the cage.
Up 5-2 after two periods, Hudson added another at less than a minute into the third. A slap shot from Explore defender Blake Lori was deflected into the net by junior forward Alex Nawn with 14:11 left in the game.
Hudson’s final goal of the game was pretty, as Cole and Kotseos worked a perfect passing sequence through the WRA defense. Cole ended up with an empty net in front of him and he put it home with 9:36 left in the game.
WRA found a quick response again, as a goal from Tommy Wagner with 8:36 left made it 7-3, but the Pioneers would get no closer.
Hudson finished with a 37-21 edge in shots, as Goad finished with 30 saves on the night. Hudson goalie Stroud Corr finished with 18 saves,
WRA will host Shaker Heights at the KSU Ice Arena Jan. 28 at 4:40 p.m.