Logan Coomes and Ryley Harper skated around the back rink at Skate Frederick on Monday, wearing navy Frederick Freeze jackets and pants with Carolina blue lettering while helping with a Frederick Fury practice.
The Oakdale players participated in the youth team’s 2-on-2 drills, gliding across the ice at half speed while showing off the advanced stick work the Fury players hope to one day wield. When they got the chance to skate on the same line, Coomes and Harper patiently passed the puck back and forth, making extra passes before being stopped by the youngsters.
But the Fury players knew if the duo wanted to score they could have. Coomes and Harper are the two leading scorers in the Monocacy Valley Hockey League and a big reason the Bears are in second place in the division midway through the season.
On Oakdale’s first day of practice this season, Coomes skated on the ice and Harper wondered who he was. Harper — who led Oakdale in scoring last season, his sophomore year, with 39 points — has played against or with just about every top hockey player in the area, but he didn’t know Coomes. That’s because the sophomore had just moved to Frederick from Indiana, where Coomes had won a junior national championship playing for his club team, the Indianapolis Racers.
Despite the newness, it didn’t take long for the two to mesh.
“He came from a place that I didn’t know hockey was around there, but he turned out to be pretty good,” Harper said with a laugh. “Our chemistry on the ice is good from also working together with Freeze practices and playing on two teams at once. Just knowing where each one is on the ice at the same time, it makes it easier to score.”
Coomes leads the MVHL with 26 points (12 goals, 14 assists) in five games. Harper is second with 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists) with seven appearances. Those totals rank third and fifth, respectively, in the state. The only pair of teammates with more points combined are Winston Churchill’s Zach Arden (35) and Ross Allen (29).
Harper felt they were on the same page from the second game of the season, a 7-5 win against Walkersville. Coomes finished with three goals and an assist in that game while Harper had two assists and a goal. The Urbana game followed, with Coomes tallying eight points (four goals, four assists) and Harper getting five (three goals, two assists).
“In practice we pass a lot just messing around,” Coomes said. “Then when we get in games, we just click.”
It also helps that the Bears have more Freeze players. Forward Zach Pard (17 points) and top defender Ian Soifer (seven points) make the team dangerous on every shift. But the line featuring Coomes and Harper has been most potent. Their unselfishness has helped that.
With the two frequently drawing two and sometimes three defenders, they use those opportunities to pass the puck and create scoring chances for teammates.
“I’ve been trying to figure out how to best utilize these top experienced players on the team and what I have noticed is that Ryley and Logan in particular have been really looking for each other,” Oakdale coach Dave Soifer said. “Other players know to find a supporting role on that line.”
Oakdale currently rests in second place in the MVHL, two points behind first-place Washington County.
With the playoffs nearing, Harper said the goal is to win a playoff game and see where the rest goes. But with a talented team around him, he doesn’t feel pressure on him and Coomes to continue the scoring output.
“There’s some pressure, but we have a lot of depth on our team so it can be distributed equally. So if we’re not having our best game, we still have help from our other players,” Harper said. “We need those players because there are other good teams outside of our division that could pretty much be top seeds in our division. So it’s important to have that depth of high-quality players.”
Added Soifer: “Both are tremendously talented kids and they got that way because they sacrificed since they were little kids. They’re unselfish, they know how to support each other and they’re great leaders. They’re great kids.”