1998-99 Howard County hockey previews Defending champ River Hill gets off to slow start

December 13, 1998|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

River Hill had every reason to be confident going into its Maryland Scholastic Hockey League opener against Wilde Lake. The Hawks were unbeaten last year in the regular season, including an 8-1 romp over the Wildecats.

"They thought they were going to walk all over us," said first-year Wilde Lake coach Diane Sendlenski. "We surprised them."

They certainly did.

Wilde Lake played River Hill to a scoreless tie.

"We considered it a great victory," said Sendlenski about the game played Nov. 20. "The kids really stepped up. River Hill is a good team and has a fine coach. My team held their own. They played from their hearts."

Said River Hill coach Mike Hendrix: "We're as good a team as we were last year, but I think we started out a little overconfident."

Both River Hill and Wilde Lake suffered losses in their next games.

Atholton defeated the Hawks, 4-1, last Wednesday and Centennial shut out the Wildecats, 6-0, on Friday.

That means that River Hill, last year's Howard County Conference champions, still don't have a victory.

"We have to win the rest of our games to realistically make the playoffs," said Hendrix. "It's a long season, and we just need to get ourselves together. I'm hoping the kids can rise to the occasion."

River Hill next plays Mount Hebron at 3 p.m. Thursday at The Gardens Ice House in Laurel.

The Howard Conference has eight club teams -- all at the Tier II level. They are Atholton (a combination of Hammond, Long Reach and Atholton players), Centennial, Glenelg, Howard, Mount Hebron, Oakland Mills, River Hill and Wilde Lake.

There are six conferences and two regions in the MSHL. The Howard, Eastern and Western conferences make up one region, and the Northern Virginia, Montgomery County and Capital conferences form the second region.

Six teams will advance to the playoffs from each region. The Howard Conference will advance two teams -- Atholton cannot play in the postseason because it has a combination of schools -- and the Western and Eastern conferences will send one each.

There will be one wild-card entry -- the team with the next best record -- and also one team from the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association Conference. The MIAA teams, which include Baltimore area private schools, compete in their own league, but the MIAA's top two teams will compete in the MSHL playoffs (one team to each region).

The winners from each region will play for the Tier II Chesapeake Cup title.

Here is a look at the county teams:

Atholton (2-1) suffered its first loss, 4-2, Friday night against South River. "We're 2-1 and we don't intend to lose any more," said Atholton coach Dennis Gottesmann, now in his 11th season.

The Raiders, who were 6-4 last season, opened the season with an 11-1 win over Glenelg, then came the 4-1 win over River Hill. Senior forward Bobby Steen (Atholton) had two goals and freshman Kurt Carter (Long Reach) and senior captain Greg Hendrix (Atholton) each had a goal and two assists.

Senior David Potsiadlo (Hammond) plays both offense and defense, and had four goals against Glenelg. Three Atholton players who lead the defense are sophomore Adam Arnold, freshman Eli Martin and senior Chris Hinsvark. Junior Jason Milke (Hammond) is the goalie.

"This is an extremely strong team," said Gottesmann, who said his team was short-handed against a large South River squad. "I've got good people in all positions. It's a pleasure."

Centennial (1-2) opened the season with losses to Howard, 11-3, and Roosevelt, 3-2, then blanked Wilde Lake, 6-0, on Friday. Senior forward Ryan McCrone, who returned to the team after a two-year absence, had a hat track against the Wildecats.

Other players expected to contribute are junior defenseman Pat Schaeffer, senior center Chris Rohrback (captain), sophomore forward Adam Kessler and freshman goalie Joey Collins.

"I expect to have a winning season," said Centennial coach Steve Berman, whose team finished 3-6-1 last year.

Glenelg (0-4) has a young and inexperienced team. The Gladiators, coached by Dave Lawson, have lost to Atholton, 11-1; Oakland Mills, 4-3; Mount Hebron, 10-4; and Howard, 11-1.

Leading Glenelg's attack are senior forwards Craig Wowkanyn and Ryan Cullison and junior forward Drew Zinchiak (captain). Seniors Nick Rossetti and Travis Keys lead the defense.

The Gladiators, who were 1-7-2 last season, have two first-year goalies -- senior Matt Thrasher and junior Matt Locke.

Howard has another solid team, capable of reaching the playoffs. "We're a strong team," said Howard coach Michael Rand. "I'm very pleased with how they're playing. They're playing like a team."

The Lions (4-0) have wins over Centennial, 11-3; Oakland Mills, 10-0; Perry Hall, 5-1; and Glenelg, 11-1.

Senior Rob Ross and sophomore Jeff Riley are playing well on the forward line. Senior Brian Moscoe leads the defense and sophomore Ron Spano has looked sharp in goal.

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