Opposing coaches who face Severna Park in this winter's Maryland Scholastic Hockey League games would be prudent to give their players some pre-game advice:
Watch out for jersey numbers 7, 8 and 9.
Those jerseys belong to the talented trio of forwards Luke Freeman (8), Brian Bocskor (9) and Matt Tinordi (7), and when the Severna Park power play is in effect, all three are on the ice.
Severna Park Coach Chuck Fox said he initially had senior captain Freeman, senior assistant captain Bocskor and sophomore Tinordi on the same line until the early-season loss of some players led Fox to move Tinordi to a separate line to even out the scoring punch.
But "we put them on the power play line because they're so good together," Fox said.
Freeman and Bocskor are starting their fourth season with Severna Park, and Tinordi is beginning his second year with the squad. And all indications are that this could be the Falcons' best season in recent memory. Not only are All-County players Freeman and Bocskor one year stronger and more experienced, but Tinordi, according to Fox, has gained a more accurate shot and goalie Maxie Weisz is at the top of her game -- and good enough to be getting scholarship looks from Division I colleges.
The Falcons are 6-2 after Monday's 8-6 win over Arundel at Piney Orchard, a game in which the trio accounted for five of the team's eight goals. Severna Park also gained two victories in the annual Arundel Cup tournament in mid-November before losing in the championship to South River.
"Tinordi and Freeman are the speed; Brian brings it together, he's our secret weapon," said Fox, now in his sixth season as coach. "He doesn't play on high club teams like Luke and Matt. Other coaches are not keying on him, and before you know it he's got two goals and [the opposing coach] is like, who is this guy?"
Freeman stands only 5 feet 6; when asked his weight, he smiled sheepishly and admitted to 135 pounds. But his toughness cannot be denied. On one play in the Arundel game, he streaked down the left side boards with the puck, only to be met by two bigger defenseman. Freeman muscled through and managed a shot on goal. That kind of hard-nosed play elicited a yell from the bleachers.
"Don't let Luke shoot! Hit him!" George Watson, father of Arundel player William Watson, hollered. "You've got to put a body on him."
Freeman, who had a goal and an assist in the game, said the team's third line players would be a good barometer of how far the Falcons can go this season. "We're going to have to rely on them because we're going to run out of gas," he said. "Our third line players are pretty strong in perspective to the rest of the league."
Bocskor, who scored a goal and had an assist in the Arundel game, was named team MVP last season. The non-club player kept his hockey skills fresh by playing in the Piney Orchard Adult League this past summer on a team that included Fox, his Severna Park coach.
Bocskor said he loves playing for Severna Park but is disappointed that last season's boisterous Severna Park crowds will probably shrink now that Benfield Ice Rink is closed. The Falcons now play home games in Bowie.
"It's so much more fun playing in front of friends and screaming classmates," he said.
Tinordi's participation in a three-month summer training program included instruction from former Washington Capital Craig Loughlin. Tinordi was among the youngest of the program's approximately 40 players.
"The goalies were older and better," said Tinordi, who scored three goals in the Arundel game. "They make you shoot for smaller holes."