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The Hudson ice hockey team was poised to capture its first Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League Red North Division title.
It will have to wait another year.
The Explorers suffered a convincing 5-1 defeat to Rocky River Feb. 4 at Kent State University Ice Arena.
With the loss, Hudson, which saw its 12-match winning streak end, and Rocky River finished 8-2 in the Red North Division. Shaker Heights (7-2) is scheduled to play Mentor Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. If the Red Raiders beat the Cardinals, they will win the Red North title based on goal differential. One way or another, the Explorers will finish third in the division.
Hudson (22-5-1), which has been known for rallying from multiple-goal deficits throughout the season, got behind 4-0 and didn't recover.
It was safe to say it wasn't going to be the Explorers' day moments after the opening face-off.
Just 14 seconds into the game, Rocky River won the face-off and made it 1-0 in the blink of an eye.
Ted Stueber found teammate Ian Herrmann, who scored from point-blank range.
Hudson appeared to get some momentum when goaltender Stroud Corr stopped Stueber on a penalty shot with 6:11 left in the opening period.
But that momentum turned out to be short-lived.
Nearly three minutes later, the Pirates made it 2-0 on a goal by Ben Williams. Nolan Weaver and River Whitnable were credited with the assists.
Rocky River got second-period goals from Herrmann off assists from Stueber and Austin Weaver and Keller Fisher off an assist from Bill Kelly to make it 4-0.
Still, the Explorers didn't quit and got the home crowd rowdy just moments into the third period.
Hudson won the face-off and got an unassisted goal by Alex Nawn 13 seconds into the period.
But after a mad scramble in front of the net, the Pirates put it away when Eddie Zuercher scored in front of the net.
Hudson didn't recover.
The Explorers had a 29-21 advantage in shots on goal. Rocky River goaltender Ryan Dunning made 28 saves. Corr and backup Hudson goal Nick Tomasulo combined for 21 stops.
Hudson got the third seed in the Baron Cup Tournament. The Explorers are scheduled to play sixth-seeded Olmsted Falls Feb. 8 at the Brooklyn Rec Center.