Matthew Schaab emerged from the locker room at the Gardens Ice House in Laurel with his goalie pants still on, suspenders unclipped and just one skate tied. A fresh set of stitches from a stick to the face the night before was left uncovered after a 1:30 a.m. visit to the emergency room.
He is just a freshman, one of the newest additions in a long line of talented Atholton hockey players, but at that moment, Schaab was basking in a 5-2 win against Marriotts Ridge in the Maryland Student Hockey League.
Schaab made his second career start for the Raiders and made 19 saves through the first two periods to keep No. 4 Atholton undefeated. The coaches told him he would be starting shortly before the game, and while he’s always nervous before the puck drops, Schaab knew that this game was one of the most important on the Raiders’ schedule.
“I just thought, ‘I hope I don’t let in a goal because I know I’m not going to hear the end of it,’ ” he said. “Both from my club teammates on Marriotts Ridge and on my own team.”
For now, the reactions are only positive.
“I’ve never seen him play that well,” said captain Matt Haney, who started the scoring for Atholton (8-0) seven minutes into the first period. “That was an outstanding game for him, as a freshman, and I expect to see that from him every game on.”
Both sides had their fair share of chances (Atholton had 28 shots to Marriotts Ridge’s 26) but the Raiders worked to tire out the Mustangs (2-5), which allowed them to take advantage after an evenly matched first period.
“We have our goalies come out and prevent the icing as much as possible, so they don’t have a chance to breathe,” Haney said. “And then we attack them right on.”
The Mustangs tied the game at 1 with 10 minutes 42 seconds left in the second period on a perfect shot to the upper left corner from Eric Winik. But Jason Pazulski and Tre White both scored within the eight-minute mark and the Mustangs were unable to recover.
Marriotts Ridge entered the game with three players sidelined with injuries, including two of the top four scorers, and down four slots in the rankings after forfeiting four games. One of the team’s seniors was unable to join at the start of the season for financial reasons, and after an assistant coach offered to help with costs and paperwork, the Mustangs discovered last week that the paperwork hadn’t been approved and they had an ineligible player.
Coach Chip Sheehan said the Mustangs played “pretty well” given the circumstances. The standout for Marriotts Ridge this season has been junior Brandon Barrett, who agreed to play goalie for the first time after the starter from last season moved to Maine to play minor league hockey.
“He’s doing a phenomenal job for someone who didn’t even know how to put the pads on at the beginning of the season,” Sheehan said.