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Lancers school the Northstars in hockey

November 24, 2009|By BOB PARASILITI

HAGERSTOWN -- When it comes to battling for the stick, the Washington County Northstars are not used to coming out on the short end.

"It's kind of hard to lose games. We aren't used to that," said Northstars coach Jamie Blackwood. "We are young, so it could be a heck of a lot worse. We are a team of the future."

But in the present, things are a little dicey. The Washington County kiddie corps was forced into on-the-job training against a veteran team from Linganore. The teachers got the better of the pupils behind two goals by Bradley Gratton in a 5-1 victory Monday at the Hagerstown Ice and Sports Complex.

The Lancers (1-0-2) exerted constant pressure on Northstars goalie Alex Benda, just hoping to wear him down. It took nearly 20 minutes to break through, but Linganore scored five times in the final 26 minutes to salt the game away.

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The Northstars are playing at a disadvantage with only 10 players as injuries, illness and exams put five players -- including three of their leaders -- on the sideline.

"The young kids are a little timid yet," Blackwood said after his team fell to 0-3. "We just have to learn how to generate offense. It is a whole lot different than it was last year."

The Northstars were in the Maryland Scholastic Hockey League playoffs last year. This year has turned into a youth kick.

Washington County had problems clearing the puck out of the defensive zone, leaving Linganore the chance to camp around the goal. The Lancers were able to outmuscle the younger Northstars to take a 37-10 shot advantage.

Linganore owned the puck for much of the first two periods, but Benda made sure the Lancers couldn't take advantage. Linganore unloaded 13 shot in scatter-gun fashion before Zach Pard scored from the right side of the goal on an assist by Adam Taylor at the 10:50 mark for a 1-0 lead.

Gratton got his first score on a 10-foot shot off the left wing with 29 seconds remaining to take 2-0 lead after two periods. It looked a little bleak for the Northstars, who had been outscored 14-1 through the first eight periods of the season.

The game took a quick turn when Brody Barbour scored on a breakaway off a rink-long pass from Alex Sweeney in the first eight seconds of the third period to bring the Northstars back to within 2-1.

"We made a couple of adjustments and moved some of our more physical players up front," Blackwood said. "After that score, if we could have kept up the intensity that we had the first 2 1/2 minutes of the period, that game was there for the taking."

The Lancers made sure the Northstars didn't get too giddy.

Gratton scored two minutes later on a rink-long rush, getting past Benda at point-blank range, to make it 3-1.

Stephen Thomas and Drew Lidbeck each scored in the final three minutes of the game to seal the victory.

"Losing is hard, but it is great to see what is coming," Blackwood said. "We might have problems this year, but then teams will be coming back into a buzzsaw."

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