Published in The News-Herald
February 19, 2016
KENT >> The trek to Kent State down Route 43 is full of twists and turns and peaks and valleys before finally getting to your desired destination.
Feb. 18 in a Kent District first-round game against two-time Baron Cup III champion Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin, Kenston could relate to that trek in more ways than one.
But the Bombers got to the desired destination, and that’s what matters.
John Barto had a pair of third-period goals and Ryan Herpy lit the lamp twice as the Bombers staved off a fine effort from the Lions for a 4-1 win. Kenston (17-12-1) will take on another area squad, Gilmour, in the second round at 4 p.m. Feb. 21.
It was a dogfight — and a chippy one at that.
“We just wanted to finish the game off and come away with the win so we could play on Sunday against Gilmour,” Kenston coach Eric Horschler said. “We have our little rivalry we always have in district against them.
“We didn’t really know what to expect coming into this game. We just told our guys, ‘Hey, you better be ready to play, and they’re going to give you a game.’ ”
NDCL (24-9-2) did just that, locked in a 2-1 battle deep into the third until Barto provided separation.
On an odd-man rush, Barto put a wide wrister on net that Lions goaltender Bobby Zoul (23 saves) got a piece of with his glove but couldn’t quite corral.
“I caught the pass off the breakout,” Barto said. “I just headed up the ice, cut to the middle and found the back of the net.
“We didn’t really know what to expect — like who their guys were. So it was a bit of a learning experience early in the game, but we found out.”
The Bombers grabbed a 2-0 lead after one. Herpy slotted a wrister from the blue line 91 seconds in and took a quality cross-ice feed from Jonathan Wiegand and struck on the backhand at 10:34.
To NDCL’s credit, against a foe two divisions higher with three wins against Great Lakes Hockey League opponents this winter, it hung in there. In the waning seconds of a penalty kill midway through a solid second period, Joe Iademarco dug an attempted clearance out along the boards. The senior winger’s wrister appeared to be headed wide, but deflected off a skate and into the net to pull the Lions within 2-1.
NDCL had two power-play chances in the third, including a 5-on-3, but didn’t get the goal it needed as a program-defining campaign came to a close.
“Oh, I couldn’t be happier with our group as a whole,” Lions coach Paul Bilyk said. “We had trouble with time and space tonight — we didn’t have the time, and we didn’t have the space. It wasn’t there like it normally is for us. So what do you do? You tip your hat, you go home and lick your wounds and get ready for next year.”
Visit The News-Herald for a video interview with Jonathan Wiegand and audio interviews with Horschler, Barto and Bilyk