While many teams spent their holiday breaks participating in tournaments or alumni games, St. Mary’s Ryken had a more important breakthrough: its girls' team’s first game.

On Dec. 21, St. Mary’s Ryken faced off against Spalding. According to Coach Chris Palombi, this team has been a few years in the making, because for the past few years there had always been at least one girl on the boys' team. But this past offseason, the school got the word out about the team, and interest skyrocketed, drawing more than 40 girls.


St. Mary's Ryken's girls' team played its first game in program history before the holiday break. (Darnell Marbury)

The program quickly ran into the problem of supplying gear to a team made up mostly of players who had never played before. Palombi reached out to a representative of the Washington Capitals, who suggested he apply for a grant from Leveling the Playing Field, Inc., a nonprofit that provides equipment to youth sports organizations.

“I applied for the grant, asked the girls who were interested of their sizes, and drove up to Silver Spring on numerous occasions to get the free gear for them,” Palombi said. “Getting the gear was a huge boost, as I’m sure if we were not able to do that, we may not have had a girls' team, or even the large numbers to play.”

Since then, Palombi has seen the novice skaters advance from hugging the boards to skating and eventually stopping, all within the span of one practice.

All of that excitement culminated in the team’s first game, an 8-5 loss to Spalding. But Palombi has seen progress he believes he can translate into future success for his team.

“Their energy and passion grew so much with playing this game within the past two months that most of the girls were asking if we could get more ice time, play more games,” Palombi said.

Here are this week’s top 10 rankings.

1. Georgetown Prep (7-0) Last ranked: 1

The Little Hoyas took down Churchill for the second time this season and beat St. Paul’s School, 9-2. They will play Gonzaga on Wednesday.

2. DeMatha (8-2-1) LR: 2

Before the holiday break, the Stags beat St. Albans, 8-5, with goals from six different players. Their next game is against Spalding on Wednesday.

3. Chantilly (7-0) LR: 3

The Chargers dispatched Westfield/Champe before the break, 8-3, with Owen Morgan, Michael Peak and Tim Contos scoring six of the team’s eight goals.

4. Marriotts Ridge (8-1-1) LR: 6

The Mustangs trounced Atholton, 11-0, and have a chance to extend their winning streak to eight games against Reservoir on Friday.

5. O’Connell (7-5-2) LR: 10

After going a tournament-record 11 rounds in a shootout against The Hun School in the Purple Puck semifinals, the Knights dropped their first game back from the break, 4-1, to St. Albans.

6. T.C. Williams (6-2) LR: 9

After squeaking out a 1-0 win against West Potomac, the Titans have a break to regroup before taking on George Mason/Edison/Hayfield.

7. Yorktown (6-2) LR: 4

After falling to O’Connell in the Battle of Arlington, the Patriots took down Centreville/Fairfax, 10-0.

8. Gonzaga (7-4-1) LR: 8

The Eagles had a week off after hosting the 26th annual Purple Puck tournament. They will take on top-ranked Georgetown Prep on Wednesday.

9. St. John’s (7-4-1) LR: NR

The Cadets had a week off after a 1-2 showing at Purple Puck. They return to the ice Wednesday against St. Albans.

10. Washington-Lee (5-2) LR: 5

The Generals suffered their first losses of the season against W.T. Woodson and West Potomac. They have a chance for revenge against Woodson on Friday.

Dropped out: Glenelg

On the bubble: Churchill, Wootton