Brandon Hall scored three goals, Aaron Cooperman made 22 saves and Thomas S. Wootton High School secured a playoff appearance with a 6-2 ice hockey victor against Walter Johnson.
“We did a good job of making guys work,” Wootton coach Dave Evans said. “The more we worked, the more mistakes they make, the better off we are. Our guys did a good job of supporting and across the board I think it’s 10 leaps up from where we were last week against Churchill [an 11-0 loss]. I think everybody was pretty embarrassed. It was a good rebound game.”
The Patriots set the tempo all game and gave Walter Johnson very few scoring chances. For long stretches, especially in the third period, Wootton negated Walter Johnson’s clear attempts, keeping the puck in the neutral zone or not even allowing the puck to pass the blue line.
“Wootton was strong off the first drop,” Walter Johnson coach Gregg Ivers said. “We just had one of those nights where we were out of sync and you can’t be out of sync against a good team like Wootton. ... Four of their goals came on turnovers and that’s our fault. And a good team takes advantage of that. If a team comes out and we hand them the puck in front of our net, they should score.”
Walter Johnson had four power plays, none which resulted in goals. It didn’t have to kill a penalty.
Wootton worked hard in front of the net, scoring four goals in traffic. Adam Kaplan scored the first goal of the second period after gathering a rebound from a Joe Kelly shot. Michael Panagos and Matthew Rosenfeld netted their goals while batting at loose pucks in front of the net.
Hall scored the first goal of the game less than three minutes into play, sneaking a backhand shot past Walter Johnson goalie Ben Perone (27 saves). His second came on a fastbreak, going 1-on-1 with a defender and scoring on a wrist shot, high on Perone’s blocker side. His final goal was in front of the net, poking a loose puck in.
“It was mostly just the passes and easy taps,” Hall said.
The win moved Wootton ahead of the Wildcats by one point in the Montgomery County 2A Division standings. The Patriots play Walt Whitman in their season finale on Feb. 8, a game which could decide second place in the division.
“It could be an early playoff matchup so we really have to set the tone for the second game,” Hall said.
Wootton 6, Walter Johnson 2
Walter Johnson 1 0 1 — 2
Wootton 2 3 1 — 6
Walter Johnson (4-6-0): Jessy Gendelman, Drew Ohlrich
Wootton (5-5-1): Brandon Hall 3, Adam Kaplan, Matthew Rosenfeld, Michael Panagos