- The Enterprise
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Tyler Sullivan put the hurt on the St. Mary’s Ryken ice hockey team, but it was a member of his own team who put the hurt on Sullivan after he scored the final of his three goals.
As he skated to the bench following the third-period tally, Sullivan joked with teammate Patrick Laiosa before Laiosa crosschecked him to the ice.
“I don’t know,” Sullivan said of the hit, which brought a grin to his face. “We’re best friends so we’re just having fun playing hockey.”
The hit probably didn’t leave a bruise but the same can’t be said for Huntingtown, which poured in seven goals in the first period during a 12-1 rout of the Knights in a Maryland Scholastic Hockey League game Friday night at the Capital Clubhouse in Waldorf.
The Hurricanes (5-5, 5-0 Southern Conference) came into the game after dropping all three of its games at the prestigious Purple Puck Tournament held each year by Gonzaga High School in Washington, D.C.
Huntingtown lost all three of its games at the tournament, which was held Dec. 29 to 31 and was outscored 17-3.
“We entered the tournament knowing the teams that were there were probably going to be a little more skilled than we were, but I used it as a barometer to see what we needed to work on the rest of the season and prepare us for the playoffs and it was a good eye opener,” said Huntingtown head coach Chip Vernon, whose team won the tournament in 2009 and 2010. “I think this team this year is relying a little too much on the team we had last year. And sometimes you have to shock the system a little bit and the Purple Puck did. I never want to lose, but I never expected us to win. I wanted us to be able to compete and we competed and we realized that in order for us to compete against the stronger teams we have to do the little things right. And if you do the little things right, it allows you to compete against anybody.”
Sullivan and teammate Robert Hand each scored three goals and added an assist against the Knights. Sullivan agreed with his coach.
“Some of those teams are really good and it showed that we have to step up our game,” Sullivan said. “[We need to improve on] overall things like making that first pass coming out of the zone. We need to be stronger at forward and on defense and step up our shots. We had barely any shots at the Purple Puck and making those first passes really killed us. Coach said we needed to do something, so he changed up the lines and we knew we had to come out hard and get more shots and a couple goals in and play good, sound hockey.”
And the Hurricanes did exactly that against Ryken (4-3, 3-2), which came into the game on a three-game winning streak.
Hand opened the scoring with an unassisted tally 87 seconds into the first period and Bryce Oursler’s backhander through traffic 61 seconds later made it 2-0. Bauer Cipressi and Tyler Myrick scored 12 seconds apart to up the lead to 4-0 and Huntingtown added three more goals before the end of the period.
“We run a very disciplined system both offensively and defensively and one feeds off the other and if you do the little things right, you should get plenty of opportunities,” Vernon said. “The toughest thing to teach the kids is that defense is key to offense and they’re starting to buy into that now.”
Laiosa added a goal and three assists and Ben Camiletti added a goal and two helpers. Thirteen of 15 players on the roster had at least a point.
Ryken’s lone goal was an unassisted marker scored by Stephen Meyers just past the eight-minute mark of the second period.
“The team came out very lackluster tonight,” Ryken head coach Chris Palombi said. “They came out and it burned me up because we talked about mental preparation for games and being mentally prepared and they came out and you could tell they were intimidated. I give Huntingtown a lot of respect because they’re such a good team and they have a great coaching staff and great players. They’re the dynasty of the Southern Conference, so they have that intimidation factor.”
Ryken’s Evan Brennan said the Knights have to remain positive no matter what the scoreboard reads.
“Huntingtown’s a pretty skilled team, but we just have to come out with our heads up and if a goal is scored, not get down in the dumps about it,” Brennan said. “Just tighten up defensively and see if we can get some more goals. We had to keep our foot on the pedal and not get frustrated about [the score].”
Ryken goalie Tucker Rhodes, who only first stepped on the ice in October, was bombarded by 40 Hurricanes shots.
“Tucker’s been the backbone of our team so far,” Palombi said. “You can see how much he’s grown so far. He’s been our saving grace so far this year.”
Huntingtown is tied for first in the Southern Conference — which is comprised of Southern Maryland-based Ryken, Leonardtown, La Plata, Thomas Stone, Northern as well as Bowie — with the Patriots with 10 points apiece, though Northern has played five fewer games.
Ryken is currently in third place with eight points.
“I want them to step up to the challenges and the opportunities that are given to them,” Palombi said of his team. “There were a lot of mental mistakes [tonight]; players chasing the puck, throwing the puck at everyone and not keeping their heads up. All the foundations of a good team they stopped doing, so we’ll go back to the drawing board. Hopefully we’ll see them again in the playoffs and it’ll be a different game.”