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The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

Icecats enter county playoffs as the team to beat

The+Icecats+line+up+for+a+faceoff+in+their+defensive+zone+against+Whitman.+The+banners+picturing+all+of+the+senior+Icecats+are+hanging+behind+the+glass+for+their+senior+night.
Photo by Robert Hsu
The Icecats line up for a faceoff in their defensive zone against Whitman. The banners picturing all of the senior Icecats are hanging behind the glass for their senior night.

With the last three games in the season being against top-five teams in the county, it wasn’t certain whether the Icecats would hold onto the number-one seed. This concern was proven futile as the Icecats took care of business, winning all three games and clinching the number one rank in the county with an 11-1 divisional record. With the playoffs approaching, the Icecats will look to carry their end-of-season success with them as they make a run towards the state championship.

“It [#1 seed] shows how hard we’ve been working throughout the season, we didn’t go in thinking we’d end up number one. It gives us a slight advantage [in the playoffs] but at the end of the day any game can go anyway,” senior goaltender Izzy Pharr said.

Winston Churchill’s hockey program has dominated Montgomery County for years but the Icecats had their number this year winning both times they faced off. In the Jan. 13 matchup at Rockville Ice Arena, Churchill peppered shot after shot on net totaling 28 shots on goal for the game. Brick wall senior goalie Pharr proved they were no match for her as she stopped 27 of their 28 shots. Pharr’s elite performance paired with junior assistant captain Brendan Klotz and senior Patrick Adams’ goals resulted in an Icecat win: 2-1.

The recurring theme of fantastic goaltending paired with explosive offense is the reason for the Icecats’ strong ranking and these themes held true against Quince Orchard at Cabin John Ice Rink on Jan. 20. Senior Jason Conlan, the Cats other elite goaltender, finished with an identical stat line to Pharr the week before stopping 27 out of 28 shots.

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The fantastic performances of both goalies down the stretch this year bode well for the Icecats as they enter the playoffs. Even though Quince Orchard only snuck one by Conlan, the Icecats’ offense didn’t feel any desire to slow down as they ripped 46 shots on goal, four of which found the back of the net. Final score: 4-1 Icecats.

Goalkeeping has been really important for us during the season, being solid against strong teams that we play against. Because WJ is at the top of the league, teams are going to come at us strong in the playoffs and solid goaltending is going to play a very big part.

— Lucas Chang

Riding the coattails of the two massively hype victories over Churchill and QO, the Icecats walked into Rockville Ice Arena on Jan. 20 ready to wreak havoc. The storylines were writing themselves as the Cats were facing the only team that beat them all season, in their final game of the regular season, on senior night. Revenge was in the air and Walt Whitman was no competition for the Icecats; partially thanks to the electric student section but primarily thanks to the Icecats’ stellar play.

Klotz led the team in goals this season and added two to his tally against Whitman, one of which came off of a beautiful assist from senior and captain Ethan Birndorf who led the team in points (goals + assists) on the season.

“Whitman was our only division loss of the season, so it was a big game to send them a message that they can’t compete with us. I’m very excited, I think we can make a big run this year. We have a really good group and I think we can go far,” Birndorf said.

The Icecats’ number one seeding has granted them a first round bye in the playoffs meaning they will kick off their playoff run against the winner of Sherwood and Wootton’s first-round matchup. The Icecats’ first playoff game will be at Rockville Ice Arena on Friday, Feb. 10.

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Luke Liden
Luke Liden, Print Editor-in-Chief
Luke Liden is one of the Print EICs (Editor-in-Chief) and loves creating the print editions of The Pitch. He also loves sports, especially at WJ!
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