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Tournament time has not yet officially arrived for the Kent Roosevelt ice hockey team.
But in reality, each game at this point in the season is do-or-die time for the Rough Riders in their quest for a Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League-White East Division championship.
And Thursday night at the Kent State University Ice Arena, coach Ben Barlow's squad kept the pressure on the White East-leading Orange Lions by rallying twice for a 4-2 victory over Solon.
The Rough Riders improved to 17-10-2 overall and 5-2-1 in the White East Division, a half-game back of the Lions, whom the Rough Riders play next Thursday night in a must-win game at the KSU Ice Arena.
"The only chance we have is to win out and have somebody beat Orange," said Barlow. "We definitely need some help."
The Rough Riders got off to an auspicious start Thursday night against the Comets, falling behind 1-0 on a goal just 30 seconds into the game.
"That's something that's not new to us," said Barlow. "It's happened to us three times this year, unfortunately, where we got behind in the first minute.
"But one characteristic of our team this year is we never panic. Our emotions are always under control and I appreciate the kids' ability to remain poised, focused and strike back. We continued to play hard and drive the puck hard to the net tonight."
Roosevelt drew even later in the first period on a goal by Kyle Manning, but Solon (6-11-1) overall forged ahead again on a short-handed goal in the second period, making it 2-1.
Again the Rough Riders answered, this time on a goal by Christian Strahan, and the score stood at 2-2 after two periods.
Roosevelt took its first lead of the night on a goal off a faceoff by Okko Boger in the third period, then salted the victory on Scott Rainey's power-play goal.
"One of the things we have focused on are face-offs, and Okko's big goal that put us ahead came on a face-off," said Barlow.
Goalie Nate Grootegoed finished with 26 saves for the Rough Riders.