Nobody on Georgetown Prep’s ice hockey team could remember the last time it beat Landon. It was four years ago, or maybe seven, but it had definitely been a while. Fresher in the minds of the Little Hoyas were the past two Mid-Atlantic Prep Hockey League seasons, both of which ended with the Bears lifting the trophy.
Friday night, Georgetown Prep broke its losing streak against its archrival — which dated to Feb. 10, 2012, when the Little Hoyas handed eventual MAPHL champion Landon its lone local loss in two years. With a pair of power play goals, Georgetown Prep built a two-goal lead before fighting off a nervous third period and adding an empty-net goal for a 4-2 win.
“We came out of the gate really fast. We made sure we were hitting them hard and getting pucks deep so they turned their backs to us,” senior captain MacDowell Johnston said. “We kept that intensity and our defense was just lights out.”
Junior goaltender Will Boggs made just 13 saves as the Little Hoyas killed all four power plays they faced. After Landon cut the lead to one with 10 minutes remaining, No. 9 Georgetown Prep (6-6-1, 2-3 Mid-Atlantic Prep Hockey League) held on until senior Thomas Olson sealed the deal with 49 seconds left to send half of the Rockville Ice Arena into a frenzy.
“You can feel it as soon as you step on the ice. The student sections are huge, and there’s a lot of hype,” forward James Flannery. “It’s a big rivalry, but the message from our senior leaders was it’s just another game and we have to focus on the two points at hand. Every team is beatable.”
Three days before the game against Landon (5-4, 5-2), Prep’s locker room received a boost when Johnson returned to the lineup. While practicing with his club team in October, the defenseman was skating behind a teammate who fell facedown with his skates kicking up behind him. One of the blades sliced Johnston’s right hand near the wrist.
With damaged nerves and two torn tendons, Johnston didn’t shoot a puck for three months before returning to the ice for a loss to Calvert Hall on Jan. 10.
“I have no feeling in my right pinkie and half of my right ring finger. It’s really, really a weird sensation,” Johnston said. “My strength is shooting from the blue line. Now my shot isn’t as big and aiming and finding the corner is an issue. I have to focus on positioning and speed and contributing in other ways.”
In recent seasons, Landon has made a habit of peaking the playoffs. The Bears hope Friday’s game will serve as a gut check ahead of another long run.
“We were a little too confident and didn’t have the start we usually have,” Landon senior captain Cole Gibson said. “I’m sort of glad in a way that we lost a game like that. We’re a young team new to playing under pressure, so it gave people a reality check of how it feels to play in front of big crowds like that.”
C Easton Cipressi, Huntingtown, So.
Recorded two goals and two assists Friday in the Hurricanes’ 5-3 win over Thomas Stone. In the prior game Wednesday, he scored twice in the third period and recorded a hat trick in a 4-4 tie against Leonardtown.
Last season it took Richard Montgomery until January to earn its first victory, and after it happened, Dmitry Bilous recalled joking with his teammates they had a perfect record in 2016.
This winter, they really are undefeated.
Aided by conference realignment in the Maryland Student Hockey League, the Rockets (8-0-2) have thrived against a more balanced schedule and climbed atop the Montgomery Division 2 standings.
“We kind of have this hope of actually winning,” Bilous said. “We have an anger from the previous year of always losing hockey and having a restart button, we could start the new season and we’ve just kept on going.”
Last season, Montgomery County’s 14 teams were split into two divisions: Pure and Co-op. Playing in the Pure division, Richard Montgomery went 1-11 and was outscored 91-23.
This year, the MSHL’s Montgomery County teams split into Division 1 and Division 2; the former includes state title contenders such as No. 3 Churchill, No. 8 Wootton and Whitman, while the eight teams in the latter are ineligible for the 16-team MSHL tournament.
In addition to opening potential playoff spots, the realignment has resulted in parity for the bottom division, tightening the gap between the top and bottom teams. On Jan. 6, the first-place Rockets skated to a 3-3 tie with Churchill II (1-12-1), which has remained competitive despite its record. Sherwood, which went 2-11 last season, is 5-6-1 after moving to Division 2.
Bilous, a junior left wing, has 21 goals and six assists, teaming up with junior center Adrian Martella (15 goals, six assists) on a speedy first line that has dominated Division 2 competition. The team’s top players have been lighting up the scoreboard, but Martella said the more level playing field has also helped the development of the less experienced players.
“I think the change in the league really helped our team not just to be undefeated, but to help improve the attitude of a lot of the players,” he said.
With several top-heavy divisions in the MSHL, Rockets Coach David Martella, Adrian’s father, said he is hoping other teams follow Montgomery County’s model, and that down the line, it lays the groundwork for a statewide A and B tournament.
“I know we’re not getting to the state championship tournament — that’ll take time,” David Martella said. “But it’s fun Friday night to show up when we might win, we might lose.”
DeMatha bounced back from its first local loss against Landon with a 5-4 win over Gonzaga. . . . Gonzaga dropped its first two games at The Jesuit Cup outside Chicago before defeating the host St. Ignatius. . . . Churchill scored four third-period goals in Friday’s 4-1 win against Whitman. . . . Stone Bridge has outscored opponents 45-6 through five games in the Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League. . . . Broad Run leads the NVSHL with 51 goals scored. . . . Georgetown Prep tied Churchill and beat Landon. . . . Marriotts Ridge and Glenelg square off next Wednesday.
1. DeMatha (18-4-1) Last week: 2
2. Gonzaga (13-7) LW: 1
3. Churchill (12-2-2) LW: 3
4. Stone Bridge (5-0) LW: 4
5. Broad Run (6-0-1) LW: 5
6. St. Albans (7-2-1) LW: 6
7 . Marriotts Ridge (10-0) LW: 7
8. Georgetown Prep (6-6-1) LW: NR
9. Wootton (9-3) LW: 8
10. Landon (5-4)
Dropped out: No. 10 Glenelg (7-2)
Records through Tuesday.