The Harrisons were new arrivals at Glenelg when the Gladiators captured the Maryland Scholastic Hockey League championship in 2009-10. Chip Harrison was in his first year as an assistant coach, his older son Tyler started on defense as a junior, and his younger son Charlie got some playing time as a freshman.
“That was a great way to start our experience at Glenelg,” Harrison said, “winning a state championship and both boys being involved and being contributors.”
That achievement came as the program put together three straight undefeated league seasons, going 29-0 from 2008-11. Glenelg dropped to 5-5 in league and lost in the opening round of the playoffs last season, but after a bit of a slow start to the 2012-13 campaign, the Gladiators seem to have hit their stride.
Although Tyler has graduated, the other two Harrisons are playing a much more significant role in the team’s success. Chip took over head coaching duties before this season, switching jobs with Tim Berry, while Charlie is leading the MSHL in goals as a senior forward.
The Gladiators suffered a 10-3 loss to Marriotts Ridge in their opener but now sit at 7-2. They have won five straight by a combined 55-27 score since blowing a two-goal third-period lead in a near upset of defending MSHL champion and fifth-ranked Atholton on Dec. 14. The resurgence includes an 8-3 thumping of Marriotts Ridge on Jan. 14.
“It was amazing how well our team played,” Chip Harrison said. “I’m sure [Marriotts Ridge] took us lightly, and we just kept pounding them. They had very few opportunities to get good shots off, so we took advantage of the situation, that they maybe thought it’d be another 10-3 game, and we’ve come a long way since then.”
With one game remaining on its schedule, Glenelg has 14 points, tying Atholton and Marriotts Ridge atop the Howard Conference.
The Gladiators have seen improvement from freshman goaltender Chris Dillon but still rely on a high-powered offense that leads the conference in scoring. Harrison (28 goals, seven assists) has paired with junior forward Johnny Lyons (23 goals, seven assists) — who missed the first two games — to provide opponents with matchup nightmares.
Harrison was an All-Met honorable mention as a junior, when he racked up 25 goals and 14 assists. He has six games of at least three goals this season and said he played his best in scoring three against Atholton and four in the rematch with Marriotts Ridge.
“I think we can beat any of those teams, if we have a good game defensively,” he said. “If we can protect our goalie, that’s the key, because offensively we’re just as good, if not better, than both those teams.”
Chip Harrison described his son, a team captain, as a hard worker in the weight room, with good size at 6-foot, 175 pounds, and a willingness to use it for physical play. But speed might be Charlie Harrison’s greatest asset.
“He’s probably one of the fastest skaters out there,” Chip Harrison said. “Once he gets around the corner, there’s not a lot of guys that are going to be able to stop him.”
The Patriots’ transition this season from the junior varsity level of the Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League to its varsity level has not been a particularly smooth one. After winning two of their first three games, the Patriots have dropped five straight and sit near the bottom of the NVSHL’s Adams Division.
The 2012-2013 season, Yorktown Coach Jeremy Ferrara admits, is the beginning of a rebuilding project. His team, comprised mostly of freshmen and sophomores with a few juniors sprinkled in, is taking its lumps as it discovers what it takes to compete with some of the best teams in the state. But that doesn’t mean there have not been bright spots.
Yorktown is led offensively by sophomore Cameron Smith, the league’s top scorer this season. Smith’s 25 goals put him seven ahead of the league’s second-leading scorer, while his 29 points are second best in the league. He’s scored two or more goals five times this season, including a six-goal outburst against Bishop Ireton and 11 goals against the provisional team from Centreville and Fairfax high schools.
“Contributing to the team offensively is just the way I play,” Smith said. “I’m a fast player. I like to take the puck wide and beat defensemen with my speed and score goals that way. I’ve been trying to set up my teammates this season and I’m going to keep trying to do that to get them on the score sheet also.”
The sophomore leads the league in scoring despite missing a pair of games this season due to obligations to the Potomac Patriots, a junior hockey team competes in a league for 16-20 year olds. Smith, who is just 15, said he’s one of roughly 10 players in the country to be granted such a waiver.
Smith has proved to be an asset to Yorktown not just for his scoring ability, but also for his ability to push his teammates and to help scout opposing players he recognizes from playing club hockey. Ferrara said that Smith, along with other Yorktown players who have experience playing club hockey, have helped to guide Patriots’ players who are newer to the sport and are learning fundamentals.
“He’s important, even more than just the goals he scores. For the kids, he’s able to model what they should be doing and help us set up a system,” Ferrara said. “He’s been playing hockey for a number of years, and knows when we play against a team, he can help me and the other assistant coaches think of ways we should probably attack that team or what we can do to exploit their weaknesses.”
Churchill jumps to No. 4 after winning three games in the past week, two against ranked opponents (DeMatha and Whitman). . . . Atholton’s loss to Annapolis Old Mill on Monday snapped a 15-game win streak going back to last season. . . . Spalding will face its first opponent since joining the rankings this Thursday when it takes on Landon. . . . Woodbridge moves up after playing Briar Woods to a 4-4 tie last Friday.
1. Gonzaga (15-3-1) LW: 1
2. Stone Bridge (7-0) LW: 2
3. Landon (10-2-2) LW: 4
4. Churchill (12-2) LW: 6
5. Atholton (7-1) LW: 3
6. Briar Woods (5-1-1) LW: 5
7. Woodbridge (7-0-1) LW: 9
8. Spalding (9-2) LW: 10
9. DeMatha (12-12-2) LW: 8
10. Whitman (6-4-2) LW: 7