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KENT -- 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, Rocky River and Shaker Heights finished 8-2 in the Red North Division.
The Red Raiders, who defeated Mentor 4-2 Feb. 4, won the Red North title and earned the top seed in the Baron Cup Tournament based on goal differential. The Pirates, who won their seventh straight game, are the Red North runners-up and received the second seed.
The Explorers received the third seed and are scheduled to play sixth-seeded Olmsted Falls Feb. 8 at the John M. Coyne Recreation Center in Brooklyn. Game time is set for 8:30 p.m.
Although his team fell short of capturing its first Red North championship, Hudson head coach Caleb Wyse wasn't too disappointed.
"We break down the year into three seasons," he said. "You have your regular season, your Baron Cup and then you got states. We had a pretty good run in the regular season. Now it's onto the second season."
The Explorers (21-5-1), who have been known for rallying from multiple-goal deficits throughout the season, got behind 4-0 and didn't recover.
"We were uptight," Wyse said. "We split with Shaker this year. We didn't split with them last year. We won 12 games in a row, so you're going to stumble every once in awhile. Nobody in our division can say they won that many games in a row."
It was safe to say it wasn't going to be Hudson's day moments after the puck dropped at center ice.
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.
The Explorers 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 (19-8-1) 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, Hudson didn't quit and got the home crowd rowdy just moments into the third period.
The Explorers 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.
The Explorers are one win away from tying their school record for most wins in a season.
"Our goal was to win the Red North for the first time and (tie) the school record for wins in a season," Wyse said. "I guess that was just a bit too much for us in one day."