Northstars win MSHL Co-Op Division state title

February 28, 2011|By WILL ROBINSON | Staff Correspondent

LAUREL, Md. — Black gloves, helmets and sticks went in the air over the Logsdon Pavilion in the Gardens Ice House on Monday night, with a chorus of red-and-black-adorned fans cheering in the stands.

The Washington County Northstars skated onto the ice in jubilation, celebrating their first Maryland Scholastic Hockey League Co-Op state championship with a 6-3 win over the Leonardtown Raiders.

“Our forecheck was on in tonight’s game, and that really set the tone,” said Northstars coach Jamie Blackwood. “It’s been on for the past couple of games.”

That forecheck led to the Northstars (13-1-2) spending the majority of the game in the Raiders’ offensive zone. They opened the scoring when Gage Clifford found the net on an assist by Josh Barron with 7:12 left in the first period. Senior Kevin McCormack sent one in two minutes later on assists by Clifford and Michael DiMercurio.

“Our seniors showed great leadership today and the front line played very fast,” said Blackwood.

Washington County’s leadership was personified by captain Zach Kimmel, who netted a hat trick in his final game in a Northstars uniform. His first goal came with 28 seconds to go in the first period on an assist by Keith Koontz, giving the Northstars a 3-0 lead heading into the second period.

“Leonardtown has some great players, but they just couldn’t get the puck away from our attack,” Blackwood said.

Washington County continued the onslaught in the second period. Sophomore Drew Brooks scored on an assist by freshman Josh Barron with 11:21 left, while Kimmel netted his second on assists by McCormack and Koontz.

“This just feels great. I can’t really describe it. It’s incredible,” said Kimmel. “All those years of coming so close and not being able to finish. Winning the championship now that I’m a senior seems to be a fitting way to go out.”

Leonardtown (8-5-1) got on the board at the end of the second when Cullen Bonnel got one past Mikhail Gardner on assists by Charlie Yates and Even Wright.

Washington County’s defense played a solid game. Led by junior J.R. Lowery, the Northstars allowed only 16 shots on goal and Gardner made 13 saves.

The Northstars allowed two goals in the third period, one on a tough-luck slapshot by Nick Pontorno, assisted by Cullen Bonnel, that just slipped under Gardner’s outstretched pad. Gordon Bonnel scored Leonardtown’s last goal on an assist by Zachary Barthelmes.

Kimmel scored his final goal of the night unassisted in the third period.

Blackwood commended his players on their progress through the season.

“It was a very productive year,” Blackwood said. “I think we may have started a little unsure of ourselves and where we were going with the season, but all we did was improve as the year went on,” said Blackwood. “We are not a big team. We’re not going to bang opponents around, but we’re quick and aggressive. I’m looking forward to seeing how our underclassmen do next year.”

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