Taking the Cup
Northern ice hockey downs Leonardtown for championship
Brian Middledorf said one of his goals at the beginning of the season was for Northern to win the Maryland Scholastic Hockey League Southern Conference’s Chesapeake Cup.
And Middledorf did exactly that Friday at the Capital Clubhouse in Waldorf as he scored the first four goals of the game in a 6-2 win over Leonardtown.
The championship was the first since 2011 for the top-seeded Patriots (13-1 overall), who toppled the defending champions.
“It’s very exciting for my senior year and definitely my goal,” Middledorf said. “I’m very happy about it.”
“I’m real proud of the guys how they’ve played all season,” Northern head coach Erik Larsen said. “They played hard all sea- son. They deserved it. I’m very happy for all of them.”
The loss proved to be a double-whammy for the third-seeded Raiders (86-1), who were also elim- inated from state playoff contention.
The Raiders, who had upset Huntingtown in the semifinals, went into the game on a five-game win streak.
“That concerned us too because it added more to Leonardtown’s incentive,” Larsen said. “They weren’t going to give it to us.”
The Southern Confer- ence sends two representatives to the state tourna- ment and Leonardtown’s loss sealed a berth for the Hurricanes, who had more points in the state rankings.
“We started off [the season] toward the bot- tom and then it’s been a climb,” Leonardtown head coach Jerry Leger said. “The players bought into the system, played positional hockey and we kept getting better every week. Without a doubt this is the best team we’ve played and I thought they did a good job.”
“I’m extremely proud of every single kid on this team and by the effort and how hard they worked and how far we’ve come together,” Leonardtown forward Bryce Leger said. “Just the fact we made it to this game is outstanding.”
Middledorf threw a wrench into Leonard- town’s championship as- pirations when he scored on a screen shot 9 min- utes 1 second into the first period.
“We knew they had the upset against Hunting- town so they’d have the momentum coming in and so we knew we want- ed to jump on them early, but it was tough at the start,” Larsen said. “Brian really came through for us and got us going.”
Middledorf changed the course of the game when he tallied twice in a 43-second span late in the opening period.
“Yeah, I think [it was one of those nights],” Middledorf said. “I was just getting pucks to the net and I was fortunate enough that they were going in.”
“We were trying not to hang our heads and just push forward,” Bryce Leger said after the twogoal frenzy. “We had to put more intensity forth than we had before. We could have still come back from that and I think we did a little bit.”
The two goals helped Middledorf complete his natural hat trick in just 5:16.
“There’s one player on their team that made a difference,” Jerry Leger said of Middledorf. “We tried to match up with him and for the most part we did a good job of keeping him to the outside and not get to places that were threatening, but he’s big and physical and there were a few times he was able to get free and make a difference. Most of the shots he took were low-percentage shots and they just went in and that hurt. He’s got a ridiculous shot and he was picking corners. He’s really good, and [tonight] he had some luck on his side, too.”
The two goals came shortly after Leonardtown failed to convert on a brief two-man advantage.
“We had that 5-on-3 penalty [kill] and that concerned us, but [killing it off] gave us a bit of momentum and got us going and once we got some goals they kept on com- ing,” Larsen said. “It real- ly worked out well. The guys played good defense all around, so we got the control we wanted.”
Leonardtown got on the board when Andrew Sev- erson scored the first of his two goals on a tip-in at the front of the Northern goal just past the 5-minute mark of the second period. Mid- dledorf netted his fourth of the game less than three minutes later and the Patri- ots never looked back.
“We were just trying to play the same game we’ve played all year,” said Northern defensem- an Justin Robinson, who had a goal and an assist. “We’ve had great success all season so we didn’t do anything different. We just played hard, worked the puck in, worked the puck to each other.”
Justin Lantz added a goal and two assists, Tyler Middledorf added three assists and Wesley Crofoot also added an assist.
“I’m really excited that we won,” said Northern goaltender Camden Masters, who made 14 saves. “It was easy to stay focused because they had a lot more pressure. We didn’t want them to have too many breakouts and we wanted to try and trap them in the zone and make them tired.”
Catie Corolla added an assist for Leonardtown and Matthew Corolla made 27 saves, including 22 over the final two periods.
“It was a hard-fought game and we were both going at it for the entirety of the whole game,” Bryce Leger said. “We were both working hard and they just happened to get a few more shots on net and pucks in the net than we did. I don’t think they wanted it more than us, they just got more chances than we did.”
“We had a rough start to the season, but as it went on our team started play- ing better together,” said Severson, a freshman. “We were supposed to be the worst team in the league, but we formed a good bond and we had great teamwork.” SMR I starts playoffs
In the Mid-Atlantic Prep Hockey League, St. Mary’s Ryken I concluded its regular season with a 9-2 loss to Georgetown Prep of Montgomery County on Feb. 7.
The Knights (10-10-1, 7-5-1 AA Division) received a goal each from Josh Stevenson and Jacob Pilkerton. Colin Lombardi and Bryce Travers combined to make 22 saves.
The seventh-seeded Knights will open the MAPHL playoffs at 4:10 p.m. Feb. 21 against second-seeded DeMatha at Laurel Resor rink.
SMR I opened the inaugural WCAC postseason Tuesday against St. John’s of Washington, D.C. The winner advances to the semifinals at 4 p.m. Wednesday against top-seeded DeMatha at the Laurel Ice Gardens. The championship game is scheduled for Thursday or Friday.
Northern’s Brian Middledorf, left, is all smiles as he carries the Chesapeake Cup following the Patriots’ 6-2 win over Leonardtown on Friday night at Capital Clubhouse in Waldorf. Middledorf scored four goals in the victory.
Leonardtown’s Bryce Leger is tripped up by Northern’s Matthew Cross as he enters the Patriots’ zone during Friday night’s Chesapeake Cup final at Capital Clubhouse in Waldorf.