Osbourn Park out-shot opponents 167-82 in its first five games this season, but that has been both a blessing and a curse for the Yellow Jackets.
The offense, which graduated its top three scorers from last season, has proved potent with the emergence of two scoring threats: senior center Nick Olsen (eight goals, five assists) and sophomore forward Eric Byerley (seven goals, five assists).
The defense -- anchored by juniors Blake Rivers and Jake Panneton and sophomores Brian Zaremski and Mike Toulouse -- has held opponents to 16.2 shots per game, but that has diminished the effectiveness of junior goaltender Brandon Brennan, who usually improves the more shots he faces. Despite the reduced workload, Brennan through Wednesday had stopped 90.2 percent of shots this season, and he has a 1.6 goals-against average.
"The more shots he takes, the more saves he makes," Osbourn Park Coach Dave Zaremski said. "Sometimes we hurt ourselves by playing real good defense."
The Yellow Jackets haven't hurt themselves too much. After Friday's 4-0 win over Bishop Ireton, Osbourn Park is 5-0-1 and in first place in the American Conference of the Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League.
"We thought we had a pretty good team coming into the season," Dave Zaremski said. "We lost two top scorers to graduation, but we've had a couple guys really step up and give us some scoring."
Working-Class Osbourn To hear Osbourn Coach Jon Ohleger, it's appropriate that his players wear hard hats.
"We're more like a construction crew," said Ohleger, whose team is 5-0-0 after Friday's 4-0 victory over Forest Park Green. "Everyone is out here working, there is no one superstar, and they work together pretty well."
Senior Chuck Glass, senior Ryan Mulvey and freshman Sean Osborne, members of the "Tres Caballeros" line, are the grunt workers, responsible for relentlessly fore-checking opposing defenses, hoping to tire them out.
Defenders Matt Krawczyk, Andrew Ohleger and Jacob Hancock rough up opposing wings and forwards, and the trio has developed a knack for setting the offense up with good chances.
Sophomore Nathan Eldredge has benefited from his teammates' work and was named the NVSHL player of the month for December. He is third in the league in scoring with eight goals and eight assists.
"He's a hell of an offensive player," Jon Ohleger said. "He's not afraid to shoot, and he can pick his spots."
Sophomore forward Ryan Shepard, the team's "go-to guy," according to his coach, has eight goals and six assists, including two goals and an assist in Osbourn's 5-2 win over Stonewall Jackson on Wednesday.
Junior Matt Thompson, the Eagles' only AA Midget (the highest level of club hockey in Prince William County) player, is an accomplished defender and usually guards the opposition's most dangerous threat.
"He's probably one of the best players on the team, one of our smartest players," Jon Ohleger said. "He lives for hockey."
With all of their parts working in harmony, Osbourn sits near the top of the American Conference standings, setting up some interesting matchups at the end of the season. The Eagles will face Forest Park Blue and Osbourn Park in their last two games of the season, which could determine the conference champion.
"I'd like to win the whole thing, and I think we're capable," Jon Ohleger said. "We have a couple of real tough games coming up, but I hope to finish at the top or around the top."