For Chantilly Coach John Mercer, ice hockey is a family affair. He started with the Chargers as an assistant when his oldest son Justin joined the team, and then took over as head coach when his younger son Jack continued the family tradition.
But there’s one aspect of Mercer’s coaching style that could be embarrassing for any child: He wears a bright purple suit to every game.
“I”m asking these guys to go big on the ice,” Mercer said. “This is my version of going big with the kids. And they seem to get a kick out of it.”
And Chantilly has gone big in the Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League (NVSHL) this season. The Chargers are the first overall seed going into the playoffs, and only have one loss.
Mercer, who works in insurance, is known for his loud suits at the office, and one day some of his players noticed a holiday suit in his car that he was going to wear for a work function.
“They’re like ‘you’re not wearing that to the game on Friday, are you?’” Mercer said. But the coach quickly reassured them that he was sticking with the purple suit, which he has committed to wearing throughout the playoffs.
“It’s become sort of a superstition kind of thing,” Mercer said. “They’ve really bought into it and they get a kick out of it.”
Here are this week’s top 10 rankings:
1, Chantilly (9-1) LR: 3
The Chargers earned a first-round bye in the NVSHL playoffs as the top seed. They are awaiting their opponent in the quarterfinals on Feb. 25.
2. Gonzaga (13-8-1) LR: 7
The Eagles upset O’Connell in the first round of the Mid-Atlantic Prep Hockey League playoffs, and are looking to clinch their sixth MAPHL title in 10 seasons.
3. Marriotts Ridge (14-2-1) LR: 4
The Mustangs start their pursuit of the Maryland Student Hockey League title Wednesday night against Washington County.
4. Churchill (13-7-2) LR: 10
The Bulldogs steamrolled Glenelg, 8-3, in their first-round matchup. They await the winner of Urbana and Kent Island for their next opponent.
5. T.C. Williams (8-2) LR: 6
With a first-round bye as the top seed in the Capital Scholastic Hockey League, the Titans drew Lake Braddock in the quarterfinals.
6. Wootton (12-4-1) LR: 9
As the third overall seed in the MSHL, the Patriots will play Easton to open the playoffs.
7. Landon (12-6-1) LR: NR
The Bears join the top 10 thanks to an upset over No. 1 DeMatha in the first round of the MAPHL playoffs.
8. DeMatha (25-8-2) LR: 1
The previously top-ranked Stags took down St. John’s in overtime to claim their third consecutive Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship, but fell to Landon in the first round of the MAPHL playoffs.
9. Washington-Lee (7-2-1) LR: NR
The Generals are back in the rankings as they take on Woodbridge in the first round of the CSHL tournament Friday.
10. Georgetown Prep (14-4-1) LR: 2
The Little Hoyas claimed their second Interstate Athletic Conference title over Landon, but lost their first round MAPHL tournament matchup to Spalding.
Dropped out: O’Connell, St. John’s
On the bubble: Spalding, St. Albans, Yorktown