The outside temperature was unusually warm for an afternoon in December, but the ice at The Chiller North was sufficiently cold for the Skyline Chili Capital Hockey Conference Game of the Week where the Olentangy Orange Pioneers defeated the Olentangy Braves 9-1 on Sunday.
For both teams, the match-up was their third contest in three days, but as Pioneers head coach Tim Pennington said last week: both teams wanted to be the “Olentangy that stands out” from this weekend’s game.
The Pioneers set the tone early as Dino Capoccia scored the first goal of the game just 30 seconds into the opening period. It was the first of many, too: eight different Pioneers scored en route to their third victory against league opponents on the weekend.
“Any time we play a sister school like Olentangy, we know it’s going to be a tough game coming out – no matter what, no matter how good either team is,” Pennington said. “We knew we had to put the puck in the net.”
Despite the lopsided score, both teams showed up to play – and to hit. The Braves came out strong in the first period, playing a physical game that kept the Pioneers on their heels after Capoccia’s goal.
Braves goaltender Ryan Dop made some key saves to keep it a 1-0 game for most of the first period, but his play was not enough to shut down the Pioneers offense. Austin Wallace deflected a shot from the left circle to give the Pioneers a 2-0 lead just before the first period came to a close.
The Braves cut that lead in half early in the second period with a goal from Blake Saliaris. Saliaris skated into the offensive zone and wristed a shot that sailed past Pioneers goalie Kyle Jones, who had replaced Clayton Horvath in net at the start of the second period.
The Pioneers responded with two quick goals of their own as Luke Buchy scored less than a minute later to restore the two-goal cushion, and Tyler Brumfield sent a powerful slap shot over Dop’s shoulder to give the Pioneers their only power play goal of the game and a 4-1 lead to close out the second period.
“I just try to create opportunities, and I was lucky enough to get one in tonight,” Brumfield said.
If the Braves had any thoughts of a comeback victory in the third period, the Pioneers quickly dispelled, scoring five more goals to seal the victory.
Eddie Arnold, Jarrett Shafer, and Hunter Shepherd scored for the Pioneers within two minutes of each other, and Capoccia netted his second of the game to extend their lead to 8-1. Karsten Green-Church scored the final tally with a little under five minutes to go in the game.
THE PIVOTAL MOMENT
Buchy’s goal in the second period deflated the Braves and pushed the momentum back to the Pioneers for the rest of the game. Buchy scored the third goal for Olentangy Orange a little over a minute after the Saliaris put the Braves on the scoreboard.
After the game, Capoccia said a big win like this against a rival sends an important message about the competitiveness of the Pioneers.
“Don’t mess with us,” Capoccia said. “If you score, we’re gonna score right back.”
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