LANDOVER -- Students at Atholton High School got an ice hockey team started because they preferred hockey to the school's winter sports offerings.
"Two of our players [Nick Kennedy and Jason Darnell] came up with the idea last season," said Atholton coach Bob Williams, "and one of the mothers served as the manager."
The Raiders (6-2-1) made it to yesterday's Maryland Scholastic Hockey League championship game at the Capital Centre, and despite dropping a 6-1 decision to DeMatha (8-1), the Raiders are still glad they played.
"We've only had one practice all year. Most of the league is made up of private schools and they get all the ice time," said Williams.
The Raiders won the right to compete in yesterday's final by defeating Boys' Latin, last season's league runner-up, 3-2, last Monday.
The league, which consists of 14 teams (Atholton, Boys' Latin, Calvert Hall, Centennial, Gilman, Mount St. Joseph and Wilde Lake in the Blue Division and DeMatha, Georgetown Prep, Good Counsel, Hammond, Howard, Loyola and Oakland Mills in the Gray Division), is in its third season. DeMatha is the two-time defending champion, Boys' Latin captured the title the first year.
The Stags, who carry 18 players on their roster compared to Atholton's nine, dominated the play early. Doug Legan scored on a shot from the left faceoff circle to give the Stags a 1-0 lead at 2 minutes, 40 seconds. DeMatha extended the lead to 2-0 at 3:07 when Mark Riva tipped in a rebound and the lead held through the first period.
The Raiders took themselves out of the game in the second period. First, Raider Nick Kennedy was ejected at 1:01 for fighting. Then, at 6:34 Chris Russell was ejected for a flagrant high stick. The Stags just kept scoring.
Andy Johnson tipped in a Todd Buchler shot at 1:44, and then one by Riva at 2:23 to give the Stags a 4-0 lead. Ed Dillion's shot at 11:12 closed out the second-period scoring.
The Raiders finally scored at 9:59 of the third on a Stephen Coleman slap shot before DeMatha's Dillion closed out the scoring on a tip-in at 10:42.
"They dictated the pace to us in our first meeting [a 3-0 Atholton win] and we were determined not to let it happen again," said DeMatha coach Pat Krimm. "Our players stuck together and made them work for everything they got, and that's why we won."