Senior forward Nick Kelley dislocated his collarbone while sledding in mid-December, and it may have been one of the best things that happened to the Broad Run hockey team this winter. The injury forced Coach Steve Lorusso to use sophomore Jeremiah Cunningham on the same line as senior Chris Lorusso, and one player's aches have turned the Bulldogs' offense into a pain for opposing defenses.
Cunningham, who was giving the team's second line a needed jolt before Kelley was injured, leads the Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League in scoring with 41 points on 23 goals and 18 assists. Lorusso has made the passes leading to many of Cunningham's goals and is second on the team in scoring with 13 goals and 13 assists.
The duo has accounted for more than 62 percent of Broad Run's goals this season.
"We do pretty well together," Chris Lorusso said. "We're both good players. I'm a setup player, and he can finish. We both played a high level of travel hockey for most of our lives, and I knew if I gave him the puck in certain situations, I could trust him.
"I know what he's going to do with the puck, he knows what I'm going to do with it and we both know the game pretty well."
Broad Run, NVSHL runner-up a year ago, opens play in the league tournament this week. Though Lorusso and Cunningham can be expected to score several goals each game, Steve Lorusso said the defense would also be a key to the Spartans' postseason fortunes.
"We expect those to guys to score some goals," the coach said. "The team is going to rise and fall around Lorusso and Cunningham, most likely. It's a lot of pressure, but they're capable of carrying it.
"Our defense is what's going to make or break us. We can't give up 11 goals like we did to Stone Bridge, because Chris and Jeremiah aren't going to score 12 goals. So if we don't have all five guys playing defense at the same time, that's it."
Typically, Cunningham and Lorusso did most of the scoring for the Spartans in their 6-5 victory over Oakton on Feb. 7, which clinched the top spot in the Freedom Conference and a first-round tournament bye. In recording his second hat trick of the season, Lorusso was assisted each time by Cunningham.
"Chris and I have great chemistry on the ice, and I think that we complement each other," said Cunningham, who has six hat tricks this season. "We're both experienced centers. He's left-handed, I'm right-handed, so we feed off each other all the time.
Though they have blended well on the ice, the two are strikingly different players. Cunningham is a faster skater and uses speed to charge through opposing defenses. Lorusso is more patient, creating scoring chances with his vision and soft hands.
"Chris knows the game, and Jeremiah is an attacking, bring-it-right-at-you player," Steve Lorusso said. "It makes for a great pair, and it really opens up the ice. You can't stop one or the other on a line, and it's hard to defend both of those two guys. They just keep coming at you."