Stone Bridge Packs the House in Ashburn
The vast majority of high school ice hockey games in the area fail to reach triple digits in attendance, but Stone Bridge has packed Ashburn Ice House on a regular basis this season.
The Bulldogs have attracted good crowds dating from the first Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League championship game in 2002, when Stone Bridge and Broad Run combined to bring between 800 and 1,000 fans to Ashburn Ice House, according to its general manager, Rob Lorenzen.
The facility holds 400 people in its bleachers, but with room to stand around the rink, at least twice that number can fit in the building. Roughly 600 people, most of them students, attended a high-profile matchup against O’Connell in early January.
“This year’s seniors and some of the juniors [on the team] are more well connected with the whole Stone Bridge community,” Bulldogs Coach John Lynch said, “and the kids just really turn out.”
O’Connell Coach Pete Hannums, whose team lost that game 9-1, commented at the time on the crowd’s effect, and other coaches over the years have talked about the noise they face when playing Stone Bridge.
“It’s gotta be a little intimidating,” Lynch said. “We’ve got a hell of a team, but once we get up and start pressing and the crowd gets loud, I bet you that’s worth two or three goals.”
The Bulldogs are on the road tomorrow night against McLean and return home for a Feb. 8 showdown against Broad Run (7-1) to decide the West Division champion.
Ten years ago, a South River freshman named Bryan Brady started an ice hockey team at the Edgewater school, anxious to play the sport he loved while wearing school colors. A decade later, the Seahawks are flourishing — undefeated after 11 games and ready to enter the playoffs as the Maryland Scholastic Hockey League’s defending champions. They’ve lost only one game over the past two seasons.
And their coach? An older and wiser Bryan Brady, who has his own landscaping business and for the third year is head coach at his alma mater.
As for the players, senior Brad Hewick is the MSHL’s leading scorer with 40 points. His 22 goals are seventh best in the league, his 18 assists second, and he has three game-winning goals. Chris Devore (nine goals, 12 assists), Matt Gregoire (11 goals, eight assists) and Nolan High (nine goals, nine assists) have been providing South River with balanced scoring, not allowing opponents to simply key on Hewick.
“What we always tell the kids is that we’re gonna score our [share of] goals, we need to stop the other team from scoring more,” Brady said. The Seahawks’ defense has responded: It has allowed only 18 goals in 11 games.
Brady also noted that practice time has been a factor in this season’s success. Last season, South River had just one practice all season, for lack of ice availability. This winter, with South River playing in the new McMullen Hockey Arena at the Naval Academy, the Seahawks have been able to procure ice time for practices once a week.
Brady wants his players to be at their peak as the playoffs commence in two weeks. To that end, his team will play No. 8 Langley on Tuesday at Wheaton Outdoor Rink. It will mark the first time South River has faced a non-Maryland team.
Bullis, Landon Meet Again
Behind senior forward Steven Burke and senior goalie Mike Band, Bullis is undefeated heading into its rematch with Landon at 6:50 p.m. tomorrow at Rockville Ice Rink.
Bullis won the first meeting, 8-4, on Jan. 22 behind a strong second period in which the Bulldogs outscored Landon 4-0.
Bears Coach Chandler Gammill said his team had a number of breakdowns in that period and if the same thing happens tomorrow, the Bears can expect the same result.
“You can’t make mistakes” against Bullis, Gammill said. “The moment that you do, those boys are quick enough and good enough that they’re going to make you pay for it.”
Broad Run’s Caleb Fletcher, left, and Stone Bridge’s Kyle Broadbent tussled last February at Ashburn Ice House.