Hampered by a broken left arm, Churchill’s Zach Arden played at far less than full strength last season, when the Bulldogs fell short in their quest to defend their 2011 Maryland Scholastic Hockey League 2A championship.
Healthy and motivated, Arden grabbed hold of his second opportunity in Monday’s championship game against Easton at The Gardens Ice House in Laurel. The senior contributed to every score in a 6-1 victory, notching a goal and five assists, as the Bulldogs (18-3) captured their third MSHL title.
“I knew coming into this year that this was my last year, and I wasn’t going to let our team lose,” Arden said. “I was determined from the first game of the year that we were going to win the state championship.”
Churchill dominated as it had throughout the playoffs, enjoying a 48-14 advantage in shots and narrowly missing its fourth shutout in as many postseason contests.
Senior Connor Martin scored two goals for Churchill, and senior Zach Satin, junior Noah Fleishman and sophomore Ross Allen added one apiece. Freshman goalie Alex Chen stopped 13 of 14 shots for the Bulldogs.
Arden, a 2011 first-team All-Met selection, served as a constant thorn in the Warriors’ sides.
“He’s the best high school player, no doubt about it,” Churchill Coach Ray McKenzie said. “He dominates games, makes everyone around him better.”
Arden made his presence felt most when the momentum briefly swung toward Easton (12-2), which pulled within 2-1 on Nick Olds’s goal 12 minutes 1 second into the second period. The public address announcer wasn’t through giving out the details when Arden took a feed from Philip Satin and fired a shot to restore the two-goal edge.
“Right after they scored, it could’ve been really demoralizing,” Arden said. “I knew those next two minutes were going to be the biggest two minutes of the game, and luckily I got the puck in the corner, and the seas opened up for me.”
About a minute later, Arden found a wide-open Martin for an easy score to make it 4-1 entering the final period.
Churchill asserted its will from the opening faceoff, outshooting the Warriors 17-4 in the first period, getting goals from Zach Satin and Martin. The Bulldogs worked around four second-period penalties and the goal by Olds.
“We thought we had the best team last year and we thought we had the best team this year,” McKenzie said. “So we were on a mission from the day we lost last year to come back.”
In the preceding 1A title game, Severna Park gave up a three-goal third-period lead against two-time defending state champion Washington County before securing a 5-4 overtime victory. Nick Bondra, the son of former Washington Capitals star Peter Bondra, notched a hat trick, including the winner off a rebound at 5:08 of the extra period.