Bobby Hally, right, and top-ranked Gonzaga, shown celebrating last year’s MAPHL title, are unbeaten but still working out the kinks in their game. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

When Gonzaga took home its second Mid-Atlantic Prep Hockey League championship, wrapping up a banner season, the Eagles’ identity for 2012-2013 had been secured. The mantra was “don’t back down for anyone.”

This year’s Eagles (8-0-1) is still searching for its 2013-14 slogan as the year draws to a close and the annual “Purple Puck” tournament approaches. As the No. 1 team in the area, the Eagles have just begun to learn how to play with a target on their backs.

“It’s one of those things that gets us a little frustrated,” senior center Bobby Hally said. “We always get the other team’s best game. Teams are always gunning for us, but we’re up for the challenge.”

Gonzaga lost last year’s All-Met Player of the Year Jack Slater to graduation, but returned 13 players and gained junior Patrick Fergus, who has stepped into the first line. The Eagles have depth — three lines that can score, Hally emphasized — including left wing Dom Petty and All-Met second-teamers Chris Meloni on defense and Nick Platais in goal.

Last season wrapped up with a 6-1 victory against Calvert Hall, and this one started off with a 2-2 draw. This time last year the Eagles beat Spalding 7-0. Their Dec. 5 meeting with the Cavaliers resulted in a narrow 3-2 win.

“We’re not outscoring teams like we did last year,” said Hally, who leads the team with nine goals and seven assists. “But I still think it’s a better start than last year. We’re looking good, even if we haven’t played to our potential. I guess that’s a good thing if we’re not peaking too early.”

Around the area

The anticipated top contenders in the Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League — Langley, Stone Bridge, Briar Woods and Woodbridge — remain at the top of their respective conferences heading into the final weekend of games before the holiday break.

Langley and Woodbridge square off Friday at the Prince William Ice Center at 6:30 p.m. while Ashburn Ice House hosts the latest installment of the Briar Woods-Stone Bridge matchup that night at 9:10 p.m. . . .

Jonathan Klakring of Annapolis/Old Mill leads the Maryland Student Hockey League with 25 points in six games. Wootton players lead Montgomery 2A in points (Brandon Hall, 14), goals against average (Aaron Cooperman, 1.67) and goals (Luke Klecker, eight).

Top 10 Rankings

Spalding drops down a spot after a 6-5 loss to Georgetown Prep. . . . Churchill dominated Richard Montgomery last Friday, 11-1, to stay perfect on the season. . . . Heading into Friday’s meeting with River Hill, Atholton has outscored opponents 36-6 including 22-2 over its last two games. . . . Wootton sophomore Brandon Hall and junior Luke Klecker have both scored eight goals for the Patriots this season.

1. Gonzaga (8-0-1) LW: 1

2. Briar Woods (3-0) LW: 2

3. Churchill (4-0) LW: 3

4. Stone Bridge (4-0) LW: 4

5. Landon (3-1) LW: 6

6. Spalding (3-2) LW: 5

7. Woodbridge (3-0-1) LW: 7

8. Atholton (4-0) LW: 8

9. Langley (2-0-1) LW: 9

10. Wootton (4-1) LW: 10