By Jeff Nelson
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Amidst a noisy on-ice celebration featuring friends, fans and a two-man drum section from school, Wootton senior Jonathan Cohen took a moment to consider the meaning of his team's second straight Maryland Scholastic Hockey League boys' division championship.
"It's a symbol of excellence," he concluded.
As for his own play -- scoring a hat trick to propel the No. 8 Patriots over 10th-ranked Linganore, 5-2 -- Cohen called it, "The best game of my life."
"It's a state championship," he said. "I've never played so well. I've never worked so hard. This one feels good. It feels real good."
Wootton (16-1) became the first team to win back-to-back boys' public school championships under the MSHL's modern format, which began in the 2003-04 season.
The Patriots also cemented their status as one of the deepest programs in the area. They lost 12 players from last year's championship team and might have been even better this season.
"We knew we had a good core," Wootton Coach Dave Evans said, "but from the minute they started dry-land training, they were on task. They had a mission, they knew they were going to have a target on their back, and they stuck to it."
From the outset last night, the Patriots established themselves as the more complete team in front of a raucous standing-room only crowd at the Gardens Ice House in Laurel.
Linganore (13-3-1) committed a pair of penalties within six seconds of one another early in the first period, and the Patriots needed only 20 seconds to capitalize on the five-one-three advantage. Senior forward Dylan Skarupa set up sophomore defenseman Josh Bretner for a successful one-timer from the straightaway.
Wootton added to its lead with 2 minutes 5 seconds left in the period, when junior defenseman Jonah Guiton corralled a missed shot off the backboards and slipped it behind Linganore's goaltender.
The Patriots began to pull away in the second period on a pair of goals by Cohen. The first came when he received a pass from Bretner in front of the net and switched to his backhand to create the angle necessary to score. Later, with Wootton on the attack, Cohen faked a pass from the circle and slipped a deceptively quick wrist shot into the lower-right corner.
Linganore could not mount a comeback as Brenter and his teammates focused most of their attention on the Lancers' most dangerous player, junior forward Ethan Klauka.
"We were just trying to shut him down," Brentner said. "He's a great player. Our plan was to shut him down, work hard and pass the puck."
Klauka managed to set up Linganore's first goal late in the second period, but Cohen answered early in the final frame.
"Being an underclassman last year, not a senior, I didn't play as big of a role," Cohen said. "It means a whole lot more when you look up and know three of those five goals are off your tape."