The hockey team ended their playoff skid after only one year due to the help they’re getting from their underclassmen; however, the team is still heavily reliant on their seniors.
Senior captain Nic Band served his two-game suspension against Quince Orchard and Walter Johnson. It was originally three games but the Churchill game got dropped from the suspension after his appeal.
On Jan. 13 the team took on QO and won 9-3. Sophomore forward John Billingsley had four goals, three of which came in the first period. Freshman Colin Brick played goalie, and his starts have increased recently. Senior forward Zach Butler also contributed two goals. Sophomore forward Hunter Band put in his 14th goal of the season toward the end of the game.
On Jan. 20 they played Walter Johnson, but this time without Brick or senior goalie Drew Keppler, as both were away due to various reasons. In their place, sophomore junior varsity goalie Seamus Graham stepped in. In the opening minutes of the game he let in three goals, but after that point he turned it around. Billingsley ended the period with three goals, one of which was a penalty shot to tie it. He added a goal in each of the next two periods to give him five for the game. Graham only allowed two goals in each of the next two periods, while the team’s offense was capitalizing on their scoring opportunities to give them a 12-7 win. Senior Kun Do added a goal while junior Ethan Heiberger had two. In addition, sophomore Jake Smith contributed two goals.
On Jan. 27 they played Churchill for the second time this season in the county’s biggest hockey rivalry. Last time was a 3-2 loss for us, but this game was supposed to be different as Billingsley was healthy for this game, unlike the last one. In addition, Nic Band was fresh off of his two-game suspension. The other two players who round out the top four in total points for the season, junior defenseman Zack Lechner and Hunter Band were both unable to play as they were both sick. Lechner was diagnosed with mono earlier that week.
“I was going to risk my spleen for the boys and for the fans, because, c’mon, it’s the Churchill game. My mom was being overprotective and was like ‘nah.’” Lechner said.
Missing both of them proved to be too much as the team only scored three for the entire game while giving up six. Brick started his first game against Churchill but got little help from his defense. The team went down 3-0 after the first period, but freshman forward Zeming Chen scored a power play goal to start the second period. Churchill scored two more to follow that up, which put them up five to one. The game ended 6-3, and it’s very likely the team will see them again in the state championship.
On Feb. 3, senior night, they played and beat Montgomery Blair 4-3. Keppler started and played the entire game, coming up with save after save. Billingsley had three goals in the first six minutes of the game, which proved to be too much for Blair to come back from. Butler added a goal in the third period to put the team up 4-2, before one last goal was allowed. Billingsley committed two 10-minute major penalties, which resulted in him getting a one-game suspension for the first round of the playoffs.
The team takes on Glenelg in the first round of the playoffs on tonight at The Gardens Ice House in Laurel.