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Northstars tighten grip on top seed

January 30, 2012|By WILL ROBINSON | Staff Correspondent
  • Walkersville's Dylan Milligan, right, ties up Washington County's Michael Dimercurioduring Monday's game at the Hagerstown Ice & Sports Complex.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — The Washington County Northstars hosted Walkersville on Monday, a team which hadn’t lost in the 2012 calendar year, outscoring its opponents by a combined 24-10.

Led by defenseman Sean Kreps’ first career hat trick, the Northstars snuffed the Lions’ hot streak in emphatic fashion, blanking them 10-0 in a Monocacy Valley division matchup.

“It all started with the loss to Carroll County on Monday,” said Washington County coach Jamie Blackwood. “We had a 180-degree turnaround on Friday (a 10-2 win over Middletown) and this was just an add-on. We got 45 minutes of hockey from the entire team, and that’s the kind of performance that we need down the stretch.”

The Northstars (11-2-1), who currently hold the top playoff seed in the division, took advantage of a constant stream of penalties by Walkersville (7-6), scoring five of their 10 goals on power plays.

Josh Barron opened the scoring for Washington County with a first period goal in a scrum in front of Walkersville’s net, the only score the first.

Then the floodgates opened.

Washington County got goals by Kreps, Travis Biggs and Keith Koontz on Walkersville goalie Daniyal Hannan in the second period before he was pulled in favor of Reinis Bergholcs.

Bergholcs didn’t fare much better, giving up two more scores to Barron and Kreps before the start of the third period.

“Our lines have jelled together,” said Blackwood. “Today we were able to analyze what Walkersville’s defense was doing, get around it, and set ourselves up with scoring opportunities.”

The opportunities kept on coming in the third period. Savon Ambush scored his third goal of the season on a power play 38 seconds into the final period, and was followed by another score by Koontz 14 seconds later. Drew Brooks got on the board with 9:29 left in the game, and Kreps earned his hat trick in the final minutes of the game.

“We really controlled the tempo and we controlled the boards tonight,” Blackwood said. “As long as we can keep the puck down low, we have the skill players that can keep the puck away from our opponents.”

Northstars goalie Jeremy Benda had 13 saves to earn the shutout on Monday, his ninth victory and first shutout of the season. The Northstars once again face Carroll County on Friday, looking to avenge their loss.

“My guys are looking forward to playing Carroll County,” said Blackwood. “They’re more focused now and they want the win.”

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