There is a sports cliché that “speed kills.”
On Wednesday, the fleet-footed and smooth skating Georgetown Prep ice hockey team's speed was on full display and it easily defeated AA Mid-Atlantic Prep Hockey League rival DeMatha Catholic High School, 7-3, at The Gardens Ice House in Laurel.
The Little Hoyas (13-3 overall, 5-1 MAPHL) controlled the pace of the game from the opening face-off by utilizing an aggressive two-man forecheck to beat the Stags to several lose pucks and excelling on the breakout to create several odd-man rush opportunities.
“We knew from the beginning of the year that we had a fast team,” said junior forward Kyle Chadwick, who led his team with three points (2 goals, 1 assist). “We forecheck hard and want to create turnovers, crash the net, get rebounds and also get free in the open ice.”
The effort resulted in the team's sixth consecutive victory, but more importantly, the win moved Georgetown Prep to second place in the eight-team league and two points behind undefeated and archrival Landon. DeMatha (11-17-6, 2-3-1), whose majority of losses has come to out of area opponents, remained fourth in the MAPHL.
“You can't discredit anything they did today,” Stags coach Tony MacAulay said. “They are a great skating team and they certainly outskated and outmanned us with the puck. … We gave up four breakaways and they scored on three of them. You are not going to be successful playing team defense like that.”
Entering the season, the Bethesda-based Little Hoyas, who are usually amongst the region's top-teams, were a bit of an unknown due to key graduation losses. But they surprised many and developed into a strong two-way team built around former Montgomery County All-Gazette goalie P.J. McNamara. They have allowed three or fewer goals in 13 of 16 contests and just six during their current win streak.
“No one expected us to do much,” Chadwick said. “We lost a lot of prolific scoring, but we've had a lot of success with a much more balanced offense this winter. But mainly we are focused on and I think we've developed into a very good defensive team that starts with P.J. in net.”
On Wednesday, Jack Olson scored just 62 seconds into the contest to get the Little Hoyas offense started.
DeMatha's Spencer Keogh tied the game at the 5 minute, 14 second mark, but Olson responded again with a shot from just above the right face-off dot to give his team the lead at intermission.
Ryan Howe increased the advantage off a textbook up-ice rush with assists from Cole Taylor and Adrian Wowk at 8:59 of the second. Matt Billlings then added an insurance tally with a highlight reel individual effort at 5:17. He stick-handled and powered his way through several defenders before shooting the puck past goalie Stephan Fernandez, who made just eight saves on 13 shots in two periods of play.
DeMatha cut the deficit to 4-2 at 1:53 when Garrett Hasken converted a crisp cross-ice pass from Ryan McGuire. But Chadwick scored on a breakaway with 15.6 seconds remaining to halt any potential momentum shift.
A.J. Taylor increased the lead to 6-2 with 4:25 left in the third before Corey Hirsch scored at 4:08 for the Stags' third and final goal. Chadwick added an empty-net goal with 99 seconds remaining for the final difference.
Note: Georgetown Prep captain defenseman Michael McDonald suffered an apparent upper body injury and did not return.