Silver Chips Online

Whitman freezes Blair ice hockey

Outstanding goalie play can't save Blazers

By Julia Wynn, Online Connections and Food Editor
January 28, 2009
The Blair community ice hockey team is not affiliated with or sponsored by the Montgomery Blair High School athletic program or Montgomery County Public Schools. The team is an independent group of Blair students.

WHEATON OUTDOOR ICE RINK, Jan. 26 -

With only a few dedicated parents willing to brave the freezing temperatures to cheer them on, Blair's ice hockey players (2-7-1) suffered a 9-0 loss against the Walt Whitman Vikings Monday night. Playing against one of the best teams in the county, the Blazers were unable to penetrate the Viking's strong offense, relying on sophomore goalie Peirce Marston's continually successful blocks of Whitman's fast shots to keep them in the game.

The majority of the game was played on Blair's end of the rink because the Blazers lacked the offensive stability to maintain control of the puck near Whitman's goal. On several occasions, however, Blair was able to push the puck far enough up the ice to attempt a shot on goal. At one point, with 20 seconds left in the third period, junior Jens Josephs intercepted a pass and raced the puck towards Whitman's goal, firing it around the middle of the net right into the goalie's pad.

"Jens gave us a solid effort," head coach Kevin McCabe said. "What little offense we had, he was the one that provided it."

Marston was the key element of Blazer defense, blocking high and low, close and long-term shots alike. He was able to save a staggering 64 additional shots from reaching the net throughout the game. Despite his exceptional defensive success, Marston said he wasn't playing any differently than he has at other games. "[The shots] just ended up hitting my pads," he said humbly.

McCabe applauded Marston's goalie work, especially considering the weaker defense from other players. "Pierce played very very well," McCabe said. "He didn't get a lot of help."

Defensive plays were difficult to pull off with Whitman constantly unleashing a brutal attack. Whenever Blair succeeded in driving the puck towards the Vikings' net, Whitman players rushed down the rink at incredible speed, beating out any Blazers who tried to follow up the pass. The Vikings' clean passes and agile movements allowed them to dominate the puck in parts of the game, despite a valiant Blazer effort to steal the puck and intercept passes.

Junior Logan Schwebel took pride in the fact that Whitman played physically and to the best of its ability. "I think it's an accomplishment not to be shown mercy by them," he said.

The physicality of the game was certainly evident in the number of penalties that Blair received, the first one resulting from Schwebel's crosscheck at the end of the first period. Having players out of the game for misconduct hindered this game more than others because of the already diminished number of Blair players able to make the game. The smaller, eight-player team also forced Blazers to remain on the ice for longer periods of time than they were used to, according to McCabe.

Although the Blazers ceded nine goals, McCabe was overall proud of their courageous attitude towards their intimidating opponents. "We knew going into the game that we were probably going to lose," he said. "I was very, very pleased with the effort I got from everyone on the team."

Captain senior Jon Keston was also pleasantly surprised with the Blazers' unfazed outlook. "We showed a lot of maturity," he said. "We played physically and competed with them at a higher level."

Despite a shut-out loss, McCabe found that the Blazers performed better in this game than in some of the others they have won. "They played smart, they played within their limitations," McCabe said. "I came away from this with a good feeling."

Blair's ice hockey club's next game is this Friday at 9 p.m. at the Wheaton Outdoor Ice Rink.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/8871