It was a bit of a mixed bag for Kenston on Friday in its NDCL Winter Invitational opener against Cleveland Heights.
The good news is the Bombers had a strong penalty kill.
The bad news is the Bombers had a strong penalty kill.
The best news is that reality didn't come from the perspective of the business end.
Alex Petre scored 93 seconds in and Zack Kinney added an empty-net tally in the final minute as Kenston blanked Heights, 2-0, at Mentor Civic Arena.
As far as Coach Tom Beard is concerned, the margin for error for the Bombers (8-8) was hurt mightily by an inability to stay out of the box, especially in the third period.
"We were lucky to win," Beard said. "Cleveland Heights is a good team, a very well-coached team. We survived by the skin of our teeth.
"The thing we worked on this week, especially after last week and a long weekend, was defensive zone. Unfortunately, we got too much experience in the defensive zone at the end of the game, killing penalties."
It was the start of the game that provided the Bombers a cushion. At the 1:33 mark, Petre slotted a wrister from the edge of the right circle to make it a 1-0 game.
"I started coming out of the zone, and Cooper Nash gave me a great pass," Petre said.
"I skated around the defense, and the top left side was wide open. I shot it there."
Little did anyone know how long that goal would stand.
Despite a 21-6 shots advantage through two periods, Petre's goal was the difference deep into the third, as Heights goaltender Aidan Hall did well to keep his team within striking distance.
The Tigers (9-9-1), who seemed to struggle with their energy level coming off a 6-5 Blue East win over CVCA on Thursday, had 1:41 of 5-on-3 time in the third and 4:43 total on the man advantage in the period. But they were unable to generate a cycle or consistently get pucks to the net.
Kenston, still without the services of standout senior forward Nick Levine (concussion), had three shots in the third, but one that provided a sigh of relief with 17 seconds to go as Kinney put away his empty-netter with Hall pulled for an extra attacker.
"We started off slow," Petre said. "We had a lot of penalties, and that hurt us. But we ended up pulling through it with a good penalty kill."