Churchill senior Connor Martin wasn’t exactly in a celebratory mood on Friday night, even after scoring two goals and assisting on two others in a victory over a conference rival.
The sixth-ranked Bulldogs won their 10th straight Maryland Scholastic Hockey League game, beating No. 7 Whitman, 5-1, at the Rockville Ice Arena and solidifying their place atop the Montgomery 2A standings. But afterward, the focus was more on what the Bulldogs (11-2) didn’t do against the Vikings (6-3-2), the team that knocked them from last season’s playoffs.
“We didn’t come out ready to play,” Martin said. “We weren’t focused. We weren’t ready. They came out hard. We knew they were going to, so we should have anticipated it.”
When the teams met on Nov. 30, the Bulldogs led 6-1 by the end of the second period in a dominant 7-3 victory. Although they never trailed in the rematch, they also didn’t pull away until the final minutes.
The Vikings kept the score tied at 1-1 until Martin scored his first goal with about seven minutes left in the second period. They still were within two goals before the Bulldogs closed with a pair of late third period tallies.
“That wasn’t the team we are,” Churchill Coach Ray McKenzie said. “We’re never that team. But we were tonight. We were selfish. We were lazy, and we almost got burned. Hopefully it’s lesson learned.”
The Bulldogs, coming off a win against No. 8 DeMatha on Wednesday, held a 38-12 advantage in shots and got 11 saves from freshman goaltender Alex Chen. Senior Zach Arden chipped in three assists and Noah Fleishman, Philip Satin and Jacob Arden all scored.
Jeff Marr notched the lone goal for Whitman, after Jacob Arden’s shot from just inside the blue line gave Churchill the early lead. Marr used some nifty puck-handling to beat a defender and drive to the net for the tying score.
Whitman managed to kill off a penalty early in the second period but couldn’t stop Martin from taking back the lead.
“I passed it to Jacob [Arden], then looked right back for it,” Martin said. “It’s a play we work on in practice. He led me a little behind the net and I saw the goalie out of position and I was able to wrap it around and score.”
Churchill didn’t find any insurance until the opening minute of the third period, when Fleishman found himself in perfect position to tap home a rebound following one of Zach Butler’s 33 saves.
That followed a quick flurry of Whitman chances at the end of the second that Chen rebuffed.
“Practicing against people like Zach Arden and Jacob Arden and even another freshman like Ian Kwant, who’s a very good player, it makes it easier when we play other teams,” Chen said, “because it’s not going to get much better than them.”