Blazers pummeled by Panthers

Dec. 2, 2005, midnight | By Jon Berger | 18 years, 6 months ago

Ice hockey loses second game in a row

The Blair Community ice hockey team is not affiliated or sponsored by the Montgomery Blair High School athletic program or Montgomery County Public Schools. The team is an independent group of Blair students.


The Blair Community ice hockey team lost a tough 5-3 slugfest against the Paint Branch Panthers; a defeat that highlighted their inexperience due to the graduation of key seniors from last year's team.

Despite being out shot 51 to 29, the Blazers (0-2) were able to avoid being blown out due to the solid goalkeeping of junior Robbie Ginsberg, who had 41 saves. Senior Ricky Norris, who according to Ginsberg is "one of the best players in the state", scored four of Paint Branch's goals. The Panthers star was frequently able to breakaway and get one-on-one chances against the goalie. However, Ginsberg and senior defenseman Lee Shields, who played a smart, aggressive game, were able to disrupt most of these opportunities.

The game started with nearly a half of a period of back and forth play, with neither side gaining the advantage until a Paint Branch player took a powerful shot from the blue line, sending the puck straight into the back of the net. The Blazers came right back with a goal by sophomore Ben Kastner, but Paint Branch scored just before the end of the period on a breakaway to regain the lead.

The Blazers stepped up their intensity in the second period, with more frequent checks and more aggressive play. They dominated possession and took 17 shots to Paint Branch's 9, but fell apart in the minutes before the break, failing to take advantage of two power plays and allowing the Panthers to score twice more and increase their lead to 4-1.

Paint Branch scored their last goal early in the third period, when a Panther slipped in from around the net and tipped the puck past Ginsberg into the corner of the net. Blair's offense renewed their attacks on goal, and junior Marty Viger scored the team's second goal of the night with just under ten minutes remaining.

After a play in which sophomore Johnny Slenkovich was injured and had to be sent to the hospital, coach Kevin McCabe was ejected from the game by a referee for unsportsmanlike conduct. Despite the setback, Blair continued to try for a comeback, and sophomore Alex Sandberg-Bernard scored the team's third goal with assists from Kastner and Shields. The Blazers had several more opportunities to score in the final minutes of the game including a brief two-man power play advantage, but couldn't close the gap before time ran out.

Viger played a well on offense, helping set up shots and creating scoring opportunities for Blair, but the first line was clearly hurting from the loss of last year's graduating seniors Neal Vasilak and Brad Gee. The Blazer attackers took a good number of shots, but had trouble connecting with the net. Nevertheless, Ginsberg was optimistic about the offense's chances for the rest of the season, saying, "If we can get our shooting percentage up we'll be alright."

Blair's next game is next Friday, Dec. 9 against Bethesda-Chevy Chase at Laurel Patrick Ice Rink at 8:20 p.m.

Jon Berger. Jon Berger is a junior in the magnet. He likes ipods, poker, mountain biking, Batman, and listing some of his favorite bands. So : Fugazi, GY!BE, Kid Dynamite, At the Drive-In, Comeback Kid, Envy, Christie Front Drive, Rites of Spring, Neutral Milk Hotel, Hot Cross, … More »

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