ROCKVILLE — This is not the underdog ice hockey story you are looking for.
The Sherwood Warriors, who were at the top of the leaderboards with a 14-1-1 record, defeated the Northwest Jaguars 5-1 in the Maryland Student Hockey League championships.
The Jaguars were textbook underdogs. This season was the first season for their ice hockey team and they had a 4-9-1 record, good enough to land them second-from-last in the regular season table.
“Scoreboard doesn’t reflect it but they were in it until the very end,” said Jaguars head coach Ed Hughes on his team’s loss.
This disparity in skill was obvious on the ice Friday night, as a fluid Warriors team forced the Jaguars to go on the defensive and made short work of most attacking plays.
The match was not necessarily an easy win for the Warriors, as the scrappy skaters from Northwest sought to exploit any mistakes that they made.
Case in point: the Jaguars’ only goal came from forward Andrei Bazhin after stealing the puck on the Jaguars’ half and scoring after a brief one-on-one with Warriors goaltender Ben Gruber in the second quarter.
“Previous years we’ve had some trouble playing and we’ve always kind of struggled to get some victories, but this year I think we came together as a team,” said Sherwood forward Sam Rudnick.
Bazhin’s breakaway was especially painful since all the Warrior skaters were on the Jaguars’ half, leaving a wide-open area for Bazhin to exploit. His second quarter goal shortened the lead to one.
The first goal of the match went to Rudnick, who drilled a shot from the middle once he saw an opportunity. It was the only goal of the first quarter. However, it was enough to give the Jaguars a short boost in spirit as they followed up with a barrage of shots, none of which went in.
The lone goal for the Warriors in the second quarter came from forward Steven Blum, before Bazhin’s shot would cut their lead.
However, Sherwood bounced back, as three goals in the third quarter cemented the win for the Warriors as Rudnick, Blum and defenseman Simon Gosselin scored one goal a piece in that order to finish off the Jaguars and claim the title.
“Our guys showed a lot of heart, lot of effort in the third period to persevere and take it to a lesser-skilled team,” said Warriors head coach Ross Edsinger.