Canfield downs Orange, preps for tourney
BOARDMAN — In Canfield’s first game of the season, the Cardinals were swiftly beaten, 6-1, by Orange. Fast forward to the regular season finale and Canfield was able to flip the script.
The Cardinals showcased their growth Saturday, powering through Orange with a complete team game en route to a 5-1 victory.
“That’s a familiar opponent,” coach Steve Covelli said. “We were more diligent in the defensive zone. Less time in the penalty box, more focused on shooting. It’s a team game and when we play as a team, you’ll see when we spread the points out amongst everybody, the game starts working better. We did not do that at the beginning of the year and it’s a good time to fix that heading into the playoffs.”
At first it looked to be a repeat of their first meeting however, with the Lions striking first. While the pace slowly shifted back into the neutral zone and out of Canfield’s defensive zone, the Cardinals couldn’t knot the game up before the end of the first.
Canfield started to get into a groove in the second period.
The Cardinals racked up the opportunities in the attacking zone, firing nine shots at the net in the second frame. Four of those connected with the back of the net, quickly turning what was a 1-0 deficit for Canfield into a 4-1 Cardinals lead.
Senior Matt Berry potted two goals in the second period, with Adoni Darkadakis and Luke Scolieri each scoring one as well.
Berry would tack on one more before the end of the game to give the Cardinals a four-goal margin.
Orange wouldn’t go down without a fight though. A few mistakes on Canfield’s end gave the Lions a man-advantage for the final few minutes of the game. Cardinals netminder Cory Knarr was solid in net however, recording 43 total saves on the evening.
This was his last game on home ice, so it was good to go out with a bang.
“It’s kind of tough,” Knarr said about walking off that ice for the last time. “I’ve been here for four years with Coach Covelli and it just kind of sucks. I’d pretty much do anything to keep playing games here with this team.”
Covelli feels the same. In his fourth season with Canfield, this senior class of seven was his first group of freshmen. They obviously hold a special place in his heart.
“I started here four years ago with seven of these kids. They were all freshmen and are seniors now, so these are truly my boys leaving,” Covelli said. “There’s a little lump in the throat today, but I’m proud of them. Some of these kids couldn’t even skate (four years ago) so I was proud to watch them end with a win.”
Now the focus shifts toward the Baron Cup. While the Cardinals are likely going to be the seventh seed, no team has any real advantage. Canfield and their competition this season have beaten each other up all year.
“It’s all pretty even. There’s no walk for anybody in the Baron Cup this year,” Covelli said. “We played CVCA, we beat them, they beat us. We played Chagrin Falls, we beat them, they beat us. We played (Orange), they beat us, we beat them and NDCL we beat twice. The team that matches up well with us is Kent. That team matches up well, but they’ve beaten the first place team and they’ve lost to the last place team so there’s nobody walking through anything this year. It’s how well you play that day.”
That being said, Canfield is playing arguably its best hockey at just the right time. Now they just have to keep it rolling.