Howard ends Atholton dominance, earns conference title with 9-8 win

Lions' Masiulis, Linaburg score four goals apiece

next game is Tuesday

High Schools

Ice hockey

February 22, 2003|By Mike Frainie | Mike Frainie,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Call Howard hockey coach Michael Rand among the thrilled, and call his Lions the 2002-03 Maryland Scholastic Hockey League Howard Conference champions.

Howard (9-2-1) took advantage of several physical and mental miscues by Atholton en route to a 9-8 win in front of a spirited crowd at the Gardens Ice House in Laurel. Howard will face the MSHL Eastern Conference champion at 3:40 p.m. Tuesday at the Gardens Ice House.

Dan Masiulis and Nick Linaburg had four goals each to pace the Lions, while Sean Harkins and Pat Cavanaugh had hat tricks for Atholton.

How big was the victory? Consider that the last time Atholton (12-2-1) lost a game against a Howard County opponent, none of its current players was on the team and Jim Brumsted, now in his third year, wasn't the coach. Consider also that Atholton beat Howard, 8-2, in a league game on Jan. 31.

"I'm thrilled that we were the ones [that ended the streak]," Rand said. "It was all about our players today. They played with a lot of heart."

Said Lions captain Jake Lefenfeld: "We played as hard as we could. Our game [Thursday, a 6-3 semifinal win over River Hill] prepared us for this. We didn't think about anything else but trying to extend our season."

Howard held leads of 3-0 and 5-2 in the first two periods, but Atholton charged back each time.

Atholton finally managed to tie the game 12 seconds into the third period on a tip-in by Cavanaugh to knot the score 6-6. The Raiders took their only lead at 7-6 with 14:10 left on a rebound by Harkins.

Then the Raiders became their own worst enemy.

First, Atholton captain Colin Brumsted was given a two-minute penalty for roughing with 7:05 left. Then Harkins was assessed a five-minute major penalty for boarding when he hit Lefenfeld from behind with 6:26 left.

The Lions capitalized on the five-on-three advantage when Linaburg tipped in a rebound past goalie Lark Creel to tie the game 7-7.

Still on the power play, Howard took the lead on a goal by Masiulis with 4:02 left.

Atholton rallied again, scoring a short-handed goal with 3:00 left when Cavanaugh rifled a shot from the point past goalie Zac Walton to tie the game 8-8.

With the teams playing four on four, the Raiders made their biggest mistake when Linaburg took advantage of a miscommunication between two Atholton defenders at the Raiders' blue line and stole the puck. He skated to about 10 feet from the net, then lifted a wrist shot into the upper right-hand corner for the game-winner.

"We kept turning the puck over in the neutral zone," Brumsted said. "We had the momentum in the third period, and then we started taking penalties. That really cost us."

As for Rand, he's just glad his team can rest before the next round of the playoffs.

"Our kids are really tired," he said. "I know nothing about what to expect, but we'll be ready. We're thrilled that we've come this far."

In other action at Gardens Ice House, Montgomery County's Good Counsel scored 32 seconds into the game and handed Mount St. Joseph's Tier II team its second loss of the year, 4-0, in the Capital Conference II final.

Patrick Street had 30 saves for Mount St. Joseph, which was the defending Tier II champion.

"Our philosophy is to make the other team work to score, and then we gave up a goal that early," Gaels coach John Poisal said. "We try to play a system, and we ended up playing an individualistic game instead."

The Gaels finished the season 14-2-1, with both losses coming to Good Counsel.

In the final game of the night, top-seeded Mount St. Joseph (18-1-2) got a hat trick by Anthony DiNoto and a goal by Steve Street to defeat fourth-seeded Georgetown Prep, 4-1, in a Tier I semifinal.

Georgetown Prep narrowed the gap to 2-1 midway through the third period, but DiNoto's final goal with 2:12 left sealed the win. Street scored into an empty net with seven seconds left.

The Gaels will meet DeMatha, a 3-1 winner over Landon, in the Tier I championship at 7 p.m. Friday at the Gardens Ice House. Mount St. Joseph or DeMatha has won the Tier I crown the past 10 seasons.

"I'm just glad to get past this one," Gaels coach Erv Terwilliger said. "We got the quick lead, and then we fell into some bad habits."

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