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Northstars take care of business, Knights

February 03, 2009|By BOB PARASILITI

If this were the Old West, you could say the Washington County Northstars were circling their wagons.

Tuesday's season finale found the Northstars getting everything they could while giving nothing away.

And in the long run, it worked.

Eric Bowers scored twice and added an assist - giving him a chance to win the league scoring title - to help the Northstars to a deceivingly difficult 4-1 victory over Middletown to seal the Maryland Scholastic Hockey League's Monocacy Valley League title.

"This was a game to get through without getting any one hurt," said Northstars coach Jamie Blackwood. "By winning this one, we win the title ahead of Linganore by two points, it gives us a No. 1 seed in the tournament and gives us a good bracket."

Although it seemed like survival of the fittest, there was a lot of heavy lifting to get there.

Middletown was short-handed, playing without its top three scorers because of injuries and suspensions, and relied on defense and the play of goalie Kevin Russell to stay in the game.

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Russell weathered a storm of 14 first-period shots to keep the Knights in a scoreless standoff after the first 15 minutes. Bowers scored on a redirection on the Northstars' 18th shot for a 1-0 lead at the 13:11 mark of the second period.

"(Russell) is a quality goalie," Blackwood said. "We knew we were going to have to fire a number of shots to get it by him. We had 45 against him the first time we played and only scored on three."

Russell withstood 36 shots on goal from the Northstars (11-2, 10-2) and only let four leak past, including three in the last 12 minutes of the game.

The Northstars virtually played the entire game in Middletown's end of the ice, holding the Knights to just six shots and rarely allowing the puck past the blue line.

"We were in a neutral zone trap and that slowed them down," Blackwood said. "That has worked to our favor all year."

The Northstars got the decisive goal with 11:50 remaining for a 2-0 lead on a John Lowery shot from the point off assists by Mitchell Sirface and Bowers.

Bowers made it 3-0 with 8:47 remaining on a move across the crease from eight feet out.

Middletown got one of the goals back with 4:41 remaining when Conor Boudart tipped a shot past Northstar goalie Alex Benda.

The Northstars finished it off with Andrew Lowery scoring off a rebound from a Sirface slapshot with 1:59 remaining.

Bowers' three points gave him 54 (35 goals, 19 assists) for the regular season. The Northstars entered the game averaging seven goals to 2.7 for Middletown.

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