At times during the Landon hockey team’s lengthy unbeaten streak over the past two seasons, the Bears appeared — and felt — like a team that could not lose. But a well-timed reality check courtesy of Georgetown Prep forced Landon to refocus if it hoped to achieve its championship aspirations once more.
In Friday night’s Mid-Atlantic Prep Hockey League final against No. 7 DeMatha, the Bears came out eager to prove they are still the region’s top hockey team, and they did just that, cruising to a 5-1 victory and their second straight MAPHL title.
The top-ranked Bears (19-1) had gone 35 consecutive games without a loss when they dropped two games in seven days, including a 3-2 loss in their Interstate Athletic Conference regular season finale against the Little Hoyas.
“I think we sort of felt we were invincible. We could just put on the sweaters, come out and play and we could be anybody,” Landon Coach Chandler Gammill said. “All of a sudden, we realized we had to be on our game constantly for a full 45 minutes. And that’s what these guys did tonight.”
Isaac Porter’s early first-period goal put the Bears on the board first, but Garrett Hasken answered four minutes later with a wicked slap shot from the point on a DeMatha power play.
Ian Schneider put the Bears back on top just more than one minute after Hasken’s tally, and from there, Landon goalie Sam Kroll settled in, while his team’s four-line attack never let up. Senior captain Matt Potolicchio’s power-play goal less than two minutes into the second period gave Landon all the cushion it would need.
“We have a great corps of defensemen, and they all carry their load,” Kroll said. “After that first one went in, when the shots came, it was my job to keep them out.”
Potolicchio and David Lackner both scored on the power play in the second period to give the Bears a 4-1 lead, and Max Greenwald flipped home the final tally on a nifty assist from Potolicchio in the third.
The Stags (13-21-6) needed a pair of thrilling late rallies to advance to the final,but they never found their opening on Friday night, as Landon outshot them, 41-18.
“We knew from the beginning of the season that we were going to have a huge target on our backs,” said Potolicchio, whose senior class went 40-2-1 over the past two seasons. “We used our losses as motivation, and from there, we were determined to get back here. It feels great to go out with another win over DeMatha and a state championship.”