Correction: This is a test.
The early-week snowstorm and a burst pipe in Gonzaga’s Northeast school building kept the Eagles out of the classroom the entire week, limiting practice to one morning session on Thursday and giving the players time off to indulge in the ultimate pastime for a high school student — sleeping in.
Patrick Fergus made the most of his time off, and did not wake up Friday until 1 p.m. But the junior forward was ready and on the ice three hours later to score a hat trick for top-ranked Gonzaga against No. 3 Landon.
The defending Mid-Atlantic Prep Hockey League champion Eagles trampled the Bears, 11-0, at Fort Dupont Ice Arena to remain undefeated.
It was supposed to be one of the toughest games to date for Gonzaga. But with the Eagles (19-0-1) buoyed by a week off and an early lead, they were never tested.
Fergus scored 31 seconds in with linemates, senior Bobby Hally and sophomore Mackie Wheeler, working the corners. The trio combined for six goals in six shifts, including hat tricks from Wheeler and Fergus and two goals and five assists from Hally.
“We surprise teams,” said Coach Nate Jackson, who earned his first win against Landon in six years coaching at Gonzaga. “We jump out in the first 10 minutes. This is the third game in a row that we’ve had a three-goal lead in the first five minutes.”
The players agreed that the week off was beneficial, but were unsure whether the change in schedule would alter their mindset.
Wheeler thought it odd to come straight from home to the game instead of spending the day in the classroom. Hally said it threw him off a little bit and made it feel more like a club game.
But Gonzaga needed fewer than seven minutes to jump to a 4-0 lead and held a 7-0 advantage at the end of the first period. The Eagles took advantage of Landon’s youth (their roster boasts only five seniors) and sluggish start to power through the Bears’ defense time and again. The Eagles outshot Landon, 43-20, and scored twice in the second and third periods.
The Bears (5-2-1) won back-to-back league championships in 2011 and 2012 and tied No. 10 DeMatha, 2-2, in their last game.
“We know it’s Landon, and there’s always a good chance they can come back,” Wheeler said. “But after six or seven goals, when we were really clicking, it seemed to be getting pretty hard for them to them to come back.”
The Bears spoiled a perfect season for Gonzaga last year with a 2-0 win, making this year’s matchup a must-win, Wheeler said, especially for the seniors.
“We just wanted it a lot more,” he said. “Especially after last year’s game, I think we just wanted it.”