Whitman whips Blazers

Feb. 9, 2008, midnight | By Kiera Zitelman | 16 years, 2 months ago

Blair hockey suffers 10-3 loss in final regular season game

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.


Despite a spirited effort, the Blair community ice hockey team lost to Walt Whitman Friday evening at Wheaton Outdoor Ice Rink by a score of 10-3. The game was the Blazers' last regular season game, though two exhibition games are currently being set up, according to head coach Kevin McCabe.

Whitman was in clear control of the game early in the first period. A slapshot found its way past Blair freshman goalie Peirce Marston for Whitman's first goal, and another Whitman player scored on a breakaway play a few minutes later, despite sophomore defenseman Ben Stewart's efforts to steal the puck. In the final minute, senior captain and center Alex Sandberg-Bernard handled the puck from Blair's goal to Whitman's, skating through Whitman defense and around the goal to sneak the puck past the goalie. The period ended with Blair trailing, 2-1.

The Blazers played a physical game, but unlike in previous matches, they were not crippled by repeated penalties. Senior defenseman Ben Kastner praised the Blazers' checking skills. "Everybody decided to take it to them," he said. "People skated a lot harder." Sandberg-Bernard also noticed the lack of penalties. "We had a lot more clean hits this time. We didn't lose our head," he said.

Sophomore defenseman Andrew Tran was impressed Blair's passing in the game. "Today we got a lot done. We passed more," he said. "For a team this good, we did pretty well."

Despite Blair's defensive and offensive efforts, Whitman expanded its lead in the second period, with their third goal coming in the first 30 seconds of play. Another goal came as a Whitman player easily chipped in a shot from in front of the goal, and Whitman built a 5-1 lead with a goal over Marston's right shoulder. A few minutes later, Whitman scored again. Sandberg-Bernard fought back, though, with Blair's second goal, coming in the last minute of play.

Blair remained unable to control the puck on offense, and collapsed in the defensive zone on their end. In the third period, Whitman scored three more goals. Kastner added one goal with a close-range shot past the Whitman goalie for a final score of 10-3.

McCabe cited the defensive zone as a continuing weakness for Blair. "We have not shown the discipline all year long to maintain our position in the defensive zone," he said. "It becomes necessary to have a zone in ice hockey. It's a discipline and experience thing." Several Whitman goals were scored by players directly in front of the net with no defensive coverage, as Sandberg-Bernard pointed out. "They got half their goals right in front of the net," he said. Turnovers were another area requiring improvement, according to sophomore Max Pollacco. "We gave up the puck a lot, and we didn't get it back on defense," he admitted.

The Blazers remained ferocious, checking throughout the game. In one incident, sophomore forward Jens Josephs helped thwart a goal attempt by pushing a Whitman player into Marston and the Blair goal, causing a brief delay as the referees resituated the goal. "That was kind of painful," Marston recalled. "I didn't see the players. I was looking for the puck."

McCabe and other Blazers praised Marston's goaltending, and Marston admired the defensive checking. "There were tons of big hits," he said. "It just made the game that much better."

The crowd was one of the biggest - and most energetic - of the season, continuously cheering even in the face of Whitman's daunting lead. Many Blazers praised the enthusiastic fan section. "The fans were incredible," said Tran. "That was the one thing that kept us going no matter how tired we were." Pollacco agreed, saying that the fans kept on cheering even when the Blazers were down. "They're awesome," he said. "They bring us right back in it."

In spite of the rough loss, McCabe still found hope in the game. "They're a great group of guys," he said of his players. "We have plenty of heart, we just don't have a lot of size or experience."

The hockey team will play its next exhibition game at Wheaton Ice Rink against Annapolis High School. Date and time are to be determined.

Kiera Zitelman. Kiera Zitelman goes by many names and Photo Booth effects. She enjoys being able to drive and representing Kensington. She likes her dog, Sophie, and her human friend of the same name. Kiera owns one-third of a hot dog toaster and one-fourth of a movie … More »

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