The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

Hockey defeats Urbana to win state championship

After senior captain Matt Senker tackled senior goalie Spencer Trone to the ground as the final buzzer sounded, the rest of the hockey team joined in on the dog pile as the 2011 state champions began their celebration.

The Bulldogs were able to prevail 4-3 in the Feb. 28 back-and-forth scoring rally against Urbana to end the season with the Capital Cup at the Garden Ice House in Laurel.

“I am proud of how our team came together and basically grew up from October through the championship game,” head coach Ray McKenzie said.

To get to the championship game, the Bulldogs defeated Marriotts Ridge who had just come off a win against the second best team during the regular season. The Bulldogs outscored the Mustangs 7-2, Feb. 25, and had 17 shots on goal during the first period alone. Sophomore Connor Martin and sophomore captain Zach Arden lead the team in both assists and goals, with Martin finishing with two goals and one assist, while Arden scored two goals and had two assists. 

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“It felt great beating them and going to the state finals, but we knew that the job wasn’t done and that we had to win one more game to accomplish our goal of a state championship,” senior Matt Spivak said.

Urbana finished its regular season with a strong 14-3 record. Therefore, a close and well-played game was expected.

“We needed to play extremely hard if we expected to win,” McKenzie said. “We knew Urbana has a very fast and talented team.”

Senker set the standard high for the game with a goal that gave the Bulldogs an early lead in the first period.

“In a big game like that when you score first you get the momentum first and will get to ride that momentum for the rest of the game,” Senker said.

The Bulldogs were able to hold on to a 1-0 lead for the remainder of the first period, but early in the second period Urbana quickly tied the game. Arden then scored to take back the lead, 2-1, with 2:45 left in the second period.

“I had the goalie moving laterally so luckily I was able to slide it just by him on the near side,” Arden said.

Arden has been a key contributor this season and was selected for Montgomery County’s All-Conference team and second team for the Maryland Scholastic Hockey League’s All-State team. The game continued its high intensity as the Hawks trailed early in the third period, but less than two minutes into the third period, they tied the game up 2-2 with a goal. Midway through the third period, one of the Hawks fell on the puck inside the crease and Arden was able to take a penalty shot, but failed to convert the backhand shot into a goal.

“I just remember knowing that I was gonna go to my bread and butter breakaway move; deke to my backhand top shelf, but unfortunately the goalie made a great glove save,” Arden said.

Only three seconds later, Martin won the puck during the faceoff and wristed a shot in to take back the lead 3-2.

Following Martin’s goal, Urbana scored again, tying the game 3-3 with only 5:22 left in the game. Less than a minute after a Bulldog powerplay, Martin attempted a shot, but it was blocked to the rear boards. Junior Derek Gritz recovered the puck for the Bulldogs and passed it to Arden who then scored his 26th goal of season and the game-winning goal.

“I never felt like we had things under control until the final buzzer,” McKenzie said. “Connor Martin scored to put us up 3-2; they came right back. So when Zach Arden scored to put us up 4-3, we still knew the game was a long way from over.”

After Arden’s final goal, strong hustle from Senker, Spivak, senior captain Curtis Milkman and junior Alex Dorian helped prevent Urbana from scoring on a power play late in the third period.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we would not have won those games in the past few years because we didn’t have the mental toughness, the intensity, the heart to have to have those types of games,” McKenzie said. “But this year, we had the mental makeup of a champion.”
Trone managed to save 17 of the 20 shots on goal during the state game, and Arden led the game with two goals and two assists.

Seniors Senker, Spivak, Trone, Milkman and Alain Pankopf will go out on top while the remaining players will  begin to work to defend their state title.

“As seniors, they elevated their games and showed a renewed dedication to the game which was evident right when we began our workouts in September,” McKenzie said. “They were challenged by the young guys, and they responded. Winning was a total team effort, and each of our seniors played a huge role in the championship.”

The Bulldogs will lean on their strong underclassman next season to continue strong game play.

“I go into every season expecting that if we play the right way, if everyone buys into what we are doing, if the players forget individual goals and come together as a unit, then we can compete for a championship,” McKenzie said. “This year we had a great group of kids that played the right way and showed unbelievable heart when it matter, and it paid off big time.”

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Hockey defeats Urbana to win state championship