- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Early in the second period of Tuesday night’s Chesapeake Cup hockey championship game, Leonardtown’s Jonathan Schroeder hit the ice as a sixth skater when the Raiders pulled goalie Joe Molina on what they thought was a delayed penalty call.
Turns out, it was a delayed offsides call. After everybody was back onside, it left the Raiders with an unmanned net for a lengthy period of time. But even that could not help the Huntingtown Hurricanes.
Leonardtown controlled the puck throughout its time without a goalie in net, which was essentially the story of the game.
The Raiders allowed just five shots against through the first two periods and barely a quality scoring chance the entire game in earning a 5-0 shutout of longtime Southern Conference power Huntingtown at the Capital Clubhouse in Waldorf.
Leonardtown (12-0 overall) advances to play in the 2A state semifinals at 7 p.m. Monday at The Gardens Ice House in Laurel. Its opponent was not known at press time.
“I’ve been playing on this team since my sophomore year. I remember last year, and especially the first year I played, Huntingtown would just kill us,” said Schroeder, a senior. “It wouldn’t even be a competition. For us to turn our team around and to come back and beat Huntingtown, especially in a 5-0 victory and especially in a game on this scale, it means everything.”
Leonardtown opened the game’s scoring 4 minutes 17 seconds in on Nicholas Pontorno’s first goal of the night. Quinton Dale flipped the puck towards the net from just inside the blue line and Pontorno deflected it in to give the Raiders a lead they never relinquished.
Pontorno went on to register a hat trick, while John Broich and Alec Guarnero also scored.
“We came out hard. We were fighting all night long,” Pontorno said. “It’s my senior year and we lost to [Huntingtown] all three years. This fourth year we came out firing on all cylinders. It was a great effort from our ‘D,’ our offense. It’s so great. I’ve been waiting for [a hat trick] all year. It was a fun game for me.”
Huntingtown (8-2-2) struggled to get pucks on Molina, and even when the Hurricanes managed to, the scoring opportunities were not exactly quality.
“Our goalie played amazing, first of all. We have to give credit to him. We just had a really solid defensive effort,” Schroeder said. “We were running five ‘D’ the whole game. You can get tired out there pretty quick. We pushed it. We kept them to the outside and kept their shots off.”
Also key was the Raiders’ ability with the puck on their sticks.
“We’re so offensively oriented. I use that to a defensive standpoint,” Leonardtown head coach Gordy Bonnel said. “It was gap-control possession. If we have the puck, they don’t. Controlled chaos, just push the pressure. Don’t let them have a free skate. Don’t let them set up. That’s exactly what the guys did.
“On the defensive side, when we did get the puck, we call it ‘measuring the temperature.’ If they’re not coming at you, hold the puck and look for a good pass for a breakout. I said, ‘Take the temperature.’ Don’t just get the puck and flail it. It just all worked out.”
It did not all work out for Huntingtown. The Hurricanes entered this season a little less experienced than in recent years, but entered Tuesday night’s game with momentum and the idea that it was going to be a competitive game.
“I thought we’d be really ready to play. Leonardtown came out and showed us who was ready to play. They were ready to play. They beat us to every puck. They wanted it,” said Huntingtown head coach Ron Cipressi, who was extremely gracious in defeat. “A disappointing end, but we had a great season. I really wanted to get the Southern Conference. To get anything after that would have been a bonus. I thought we could win this game, but overall we had a great season. I really want to thank our players. We had great senior leadership.”
Defeating Huntingtown to win the Chesapeake Cup and move on to the state tournament was significant for Leonardtown on a number of levels. First, it meant the team had finally overcome an obstacle that it never had been able to overcome in the past. And second, and perhaps even more important, the Raiders are playing their best hockey of the year right now, according to Bonnel.
“It was just a great progression. As a coach, I loved to see it. They progressed every game. It wasn’t, ‘now we have to go back.’ Every game they progressed,” he said, while noting he likes his team’s chances in the state tournament. “We haven’t been by that hump, to get by Huntingtown. Now to do that, I just think our confidence is so much better. I think it’s right there, everything’s aligned.”
Schroeder added, “To be honest, my expectation is for us to go all the way. We have the team to do it. We have the goalie. We have the defense. We have the offensive power to go all the way. It should be a good experience, and I’m really glad that we’re here.”
Leonardtown 5, Huntingtown 0
Huntingtown 0 0 0
Leonardtown 1 2 2
Goals: Leonardtown (Pontorno 3, Broich, Guarnero)
Saves: Huntingtown (Mackiewicz 23); Leonardtown (Molina 13)