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Chase Hornbecker is ‘brick wall’ as St. John’s claims MAPHL title

Behind goalie’s 32 saves, Cadets top Landon, 4-2, in the final

St. John's goalie Chase Hornbecker made 32 saves in a 4-2 victory over Landon in the MAPHL title game in Laurel on Friday night. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

With 20 seconds left in the third period of the Mid-Atlantic Prep Hockey League final Friday, St. John’s goaltender Chase Hornbecker found himself defending against a penalty shot. Sure, his team was up by two, but a save certainly would have salted away another trophy.

“I was kind of thinking if we save this, then we win,” Hornbecker said. “But it happened, and we still won.”

“It” was the penalty shot slipping past him. But after Hornbecker largely kept his team in the game with 32 saves, his teammates picked him up late — Andrew Kurowski scored into an empty net with 13.4 seconds left for his second goal of the night — as St. John’s beat Landon, 4-2, at Gardens Ice House in Laurel.

“A brother for life, Chase Hornbecker, a brick wall with that. The stuff that we accomplished this year, only losing two games, winning 20, we couldn’t have done it without this guy,” Kurowski said. “He’s been an outstanding presence the whole year.”

In the process, the Cadets, the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference champions, avenged an overtime loss to the Bears in the final two years ago.

“There’s no better feeling in the world,” Hornbecker said. “I lost to this team two years ago in overtime, absolutely heartbreaking, so it just feels so good to come back in here, same opponent, same league, and just beat them.”

The Cadets had all the momentum early, putting up two goals in the first period.

“There was a lot of nerves coming into a game like this, and then to pot that one first, huge,” said Kurowski, who scored the game’s first goal. “Just energy high after that.”

Landon’s Kevin Fou got the Bears on the board midway through the second period, cutting through bodies and chaos in the front of the net to put the puck past Hornbecker. But St. John’s responded just 29 seconds later, with Connor Hall putting the Cadets back up by two going into the third period. The freshman has been a playmaker all season, according to Kurowski.

“All year that’s kind of been the name of our team’s game, getting a lot of production from our young guys,” Kurowski said. “So to see him score when it really mattered was awesome.”

After the Bears scored on the penalty shot, Kurowski put the game away with the empty-netter.

“DeMatha was revenge from three years ago [in the WCAC], and then to come back and get to play Landon this MAPHL championship after what happened two years ago is just as important,” Kurowski said. “It’s got me a little emotional. Heartbreak two years ago and then pure joy after this one.”