Strong effort propels ice hockey to 5-3 win
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 ICE ARENA, Jan. 13 –
Blair ice hockey (3-5) defeated the Sherwood Arrows (4-5) in a nail-biting victory at home that kept Blazer playoff hopes alive. Blair's final two goals struck the Sherwood net in the last 67 seconds of the game, breaking a tie and driving the Blazers to a 5-3 win.
Sophomore Alex Stewart scored the winning goal late in the third period amidst a flurry of activity at the Sherwood goal. On a setup from senior Max Pollacco, freshman Rudy Carson slammed the puck from a mid-range diagonal angle past Sherwood's female goalie to clinch the victory with 37 seconds left.
To score the goal, Carson said he maintained a focused attitude with three main objectives: "Crash the net, get your stick on the ice and look for rebounds," he said.
The victory was particularly important for Blair, who needed the win to have a chance of snagging one of the four playoff spots. "We have to win our next three games to have a chance, which is why you saw some guys so emotional on the bench," Blair coach Kevin McCabe said. Although the Blazers still face an uphill battle, the relative ease of Blair's late-season schedule gives them a shot at achieving the fourth-place slot this season, according to McCabe. The top three teams in the division are widely expected to be Thomas S. Wootton, Walt Whitman and Winston Churchill, McCabe said. Blair has already lost to all these teams.
Although the final score was close, Blair managed to dominate a fairly competitive game throughout all three periods. An aggressive Blazer defense, especially senior Logan Schwebel, senior Mike Johnson and freshman goalie Michel Devynck, deflected Arrow onslaughts and repeatedly pushed Sherwood back into the neutral zone. The pressure on Sherwood's offense allowed Blair forwards to maneuver the puck into scoring positions and gave Blazers the edge, despite strong Arrow goal tending.
McCabe was pleased with his defensive line's dedication and hustle, as well as the team's superior mastery of the ice. "I got some good work out of all my defensemen tonight," he said. "We were a better skating team than them; we had more team speed."
Blair's increasingly aggressive play garnered eight Blazer penalties and allowed Sherwood multiple power plays. The tight Blair defense compensated for a lack of players by out-skating the Arrows and shooting the puck into the offensive zone to force Sherwood on the defensive.
Blair managed to succeed through the barrage of penalties and puncture the opponent defense multiple times. Senior Jens Josephs scored toward the beginning of each of the first two periods, pushing Blair to a one-goal advantage each time.
Josephs said his first goal arose out of unexpected circumstances. "We had a rush and we lost the puck, and somehow I ended up with it," he said. "I looked for Max [Pollacco], but I couldn't see him. So I just decided to shoot."
Although Blair was able to outscore Sherwood, McCabe was not entirely happy with his team's performance. "I didn't think that we played our best," he said. "We were very uneven. At times we skated, at times we were lazy." The coach was also dismayed by the excessive number of penalties Blair collected. "I think it detracted from us. It didn't allow us to play hockey," he said.
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