Luke Klecker wasn’t feeling too great. Wootton’s junior forward missed school and evening hockey practice Thursday with a stomach bug.
But Klecker, the Patriots’ leading scorer, did not want to miss any games — especially not Friday afternoon’s rivalry game against No. 3 Churchill, the defending Maryland Scholastic Hockey League champion.
So Klecker spent a coveted Montgomery County snow day drinking fluids and resting. He made it to the Rockville Ice Arena slightly less energized, but still able to contribute a goal and an assist in Wootton’s 5-1 win.
“I don’t want to miss the game, to do that to my team. A stomach bug isn’t going to keep me from playing,” Klecker said. “When I woke up this morning I didn’t feel too bad. I knew if I relaxed and recovered I could make it here.”
His goal was the second of three in a span of about two minutes that gave Wootton (6-0) a four-goal lead. The Bulldogs (5-1) were unable to recover.
“It was 1-0 for a pretty long time, and we just kept playing them out of the gate,” Patriots Coach Dave Evans said. “We stuck with the plan and stayed patient, and once we were able to knock a couple in a row we could relax and use our depth.”
The three-goal barrage started with a diving save from Patriots goalie Jake Mitchell. A rebound went slightly wide, and Klecker grabbed the puck and dished it off to Michael Panagos for the second goal of the game.
“It increased the tempo,” Klecker said. “We just kept using it and didn’t stop.”
Defenseman Brandon Hall followed with a goal 90 seconds later from outside the right faceoff circle, and Klecker capped the spurt with a blast from the same spot less than 15 seconds later.
“Once that one goal gets in, you just get your legs under you,” Hall said. “It was great to finally get a win against them. Both teams have good players. We just stuck with it harder.”
The Patriots were outscored by Churchill, 30-1, in three meetings last season and last beat the Bulldogs in 2011.
But Churchill lost a trio of top seniors to graduation, including All-Met forward Zach Arden, the MSHL leader in points and assists.
Transfer Junmo Kim has stepped in to lead the Bulldogs in scoring with eight goals and had several good chances against Wootton. The teams will meet again the first week of February.
“We can’t go into the next game too high on our horse after this one,” Klecker said. “We need to take it one game at a time and stay modest.”