Ashburn, Va (November 26, 2015) – It hadn’t been more than four days since Stone Bridge and Broad Run smacked helmets on turf before they were smacking them on ice.
The result, however, was pretty much the same.
Action in the Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League (NVSHL) dawned with November and the four-month season is now heating up, with 20 varsity teams strapping on the skates and carving up the ice in quest of the Capital Cup.
It got pretty hot Nov. 25 inside a packed Ashburn Ice House, when the Spartans and Bulldogs faced off for the only time this regular season. Fortunately for Stone Bridge and unfortunately for Broad Run, it went a lot like their recent football showdown did.
The Bulldogs won 11-1, closing festivities early when Luke Giroux poked in that 11th goal, triggering the NVSHL’s 10-goal auto-win rule with 2:33 remaining in the second period.
It was a workmanlike performance for Stone Bridge (3-0), which has outscored its opponents 30-1.
“We played well tonight. We passed the puck not to where the player was, but where he was going to be,” said Bulldogs head coach John Lynch, in his 15th season as the only head hockey coach in Stone Bridge history.
“Plus we got good goaltending,” Lynch continued, praising sophomore netminder Sam Kukulich. “We had some trouble getting it out of our zone early on, and he made some good saves.”
Senior forward Cade Groton tallied twice in the first period and twice more in the second, dishing out four assists for good measure. His running mate, last year’s NVSHL Player of the Year Ryan Leibold, assisted on three of Groton’s net-finders, finishing with five assists and a goal.
“I’ve known Ryan since we were 8. We’ve developed a lot of chemistry, and it does its magic on the ice,” said Groton, who also teams with Leibold on the elite U18 SuperSeries AAA Little Caps. “We’re used to high-pressure situations and not having much time to get the puck to each other.”
Early on, the two local teams withstood each other’s hard hits and drives to the net for the first 8 minutes and 30 seconds before Groton broke the proverbial ice with a lefty slapper from the right faceoff circle, stealing the puck from beside a Spartan’s skate.
Groton delivered again nine seconds later, collecting the center-ice faceoff and zooming down to beat Broad Run goalie Markus Grantz for a sudden two-goal lead.
Giroux and Ashwin Deena padded that lead before the opening period was done, much to the delight of the rambunctious throng of Bulldog supporters rocking the rafters inside the Ice House.
Goals by Groton, Jack Turner and Nick Ryerse extended the advantage to 7-0 before Broad Run’s Danny Haurin beat Kukulich with a snappy wrister, assisted by Mitch Rebholz, 5:25 into the second.
That would be the only time the Spartans fans could cheer, as Deena, Leibold and Groton proceeded to score a minute apart from each other before Giroux added the finishing touch.
Broad Run (2-2) was without the services of the offensively potent Tyler Lohmeyer, out for a period of months with injury. They’re also breaking in a new goalie in Grantz.
“I thought we played hard, and for that I was happy,” said Broad Run head coach Kevin Kremer. “Never happy with a loss, but the effort was there. We played them hard more often than not.”
The Bulldogs return to the Ashburn Ice House ice Dec. 11 with a date against Heritage/Loudoun County. The Spartans look to rebound Dec. 4 when they take on Flint Hill inside the Reston SkateQuest.
More points from the NVSHL
The Spartans and Bulldogs are not the only local entrants into this season’s edition of the 15-year-old NVSHL. Briar Woods, two years removed from its second straight championship, is in the Smythe Division along with combo clubs Heritage/Loudoun County and newly introduced Riverside/Rock Ridge.
In the junior varsity ranks, Stone Bridge and Broad Run share a combined team, as do Tuscarora/Loudoun Valley and Dominion/Potomac Falls. John Champe makes up a JV squad with Herndon, and Woodgrove forms one with Clarke County. The Freedom Eagles sport a JV team of their own.
The Ashburn Ice House is one of six arenas around the region which host NVSHL competition. Each of the 20 teams plays a 10-game schedule, looking to earn a spot in the 12-team playoff field. Admission to NVSHL games is free, and the full varsity schedule is viewable at www.NVSHL.org/schedule.php?league_id=2610.
VivaLoudoun: We Live For Loudoun™
Written by Jason S Rufner
for © Viva Loudoun Media Communications