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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

Late comeback levels Icecats with Bulldogs

Icecats+alternate+captain+senior+Jon+Corwin+moves+with+the+puck+as+Churchill+senior+forward+Dalton+Esko-Himmelfarb+skates+in+pursuit.+Corwin+scored+a+crucial+goal+with+less+than+two+minutes+left+to+bring+the+Icecats+within+one+goal+of+the+Bulldogs.
Courtesy Matthew Alcorn
Icecats’ alternate captain senior Jon Corwin moves with the puck as Churchill senior forward Dalton Esko-Himmelfarb skates in pursuit. Corwin scored a crucial goal with less than two minutes left to bring the Icecats within one goal of the Bulldogs.

Trailing 5-3 with 1:51 left on the clock, the Walter Johnson Icecats found themselves stuck, with options few and far between. If they remained complacent and tried to play the game out, the two-goal lead would likely stand and the Icecats would be dealt their second loss in a row. If they pulled the goalie in exchange for a sixth skater on the ice, their opponents could easily score an empty net goal. With time ticking down, the Icecats chose the latter, opting for a risky play to try to find a way to score a pair of goals in a matter of seconds.

In a sensational comeback, the Icecats tied Churchill 5-5 on Friday, Nov. 11, improving to 3-1-1 on the season and fourth in the conference standings. In their first meeting with Churchill since the state championship matchup in March, the runner-up Bulldogs were out for blood as they aimed to exact revenge upon the champion Icecats.

The Icecats entered the game having lost to Whitman High School 5-1 a week prior, on Nov. 4. Despite outshooting the Vikings 30-24, the Icecats could not find the back of the net and struggled to gain momentum. The lone goal preventing a shutout came from junior Patrick Murphy on a shorthanded breakaway with 1:26 left in the game.

“Whitman was the first real test for our team in the season, and it seemed we weren’t ready. We fell behind by three goals quickly and had a hard time coming back. We always know Churchill is going to be a challenge, so there’s lots of emotion going into that game,” Murphy said.

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One week later, the Icecats aimed to avoid such mistakes. The team started strong with a power play goal by junior forward Liam Mannle seven minutes into the first period, although two Churchill goals in response meant the Wildcats trailed 1-2 after 15 minutes.

Overall, the Icecats went 2/2 on the powerplay while also killing 6/8 Churchill power plays. The Icecats played with intensity as they drew 10 penalties and were assessed 34 penalty minutes (PIM), including two 10-minute game misconduct penalties. In comparison, Churchill’s two minor penalties resulted in a total of 4 PIM.

The second period saw a shorthanded goal by senior forward Brendan Klotz and an even-strength goal by senior forward Jonathan Corwin, broken up by Churchill senior forward Liheng Wang who scored one in between Klotz and Corwin’s goal to even the score at 3-3.

Klotz recorded four points on Friday and leads the team with nine points (four goals and five assists) in his four games played this season.

The third period saw Churchill pull away with a goal by senior forward Alex Zhang and a power play goal by sophomore forward Qin Lai with 2:39 left in the game to command a 5-3 lead.

“We just knew it was possible and once we got the first one the momentum shifted and we were able to push for a second,” senior Sami Rosenberg said.

With the two-goal deficit and less than two minutes on the clock, head coach Jared Webb made the call to pull Icecats goalie freshman Isaac Russ in exchange for a sixth skater, going empty net. The move paid off. Four seconds later, the alternate captain Corwin scored a goal to make it 4-5.

“After scoring the fourth goal and celebrating in front of Churchill’s student section we were buzzing … with the majority of our team being sophomores and juniors there needs to be a veteran presence to motivate the [team] and fix their mindset when games don’t go our way,” Corwin said.

Yet, the battle was not over for the Icecats, with the score still favoring the Bulldogs by one. With 59 seconds left in the game, Webb again called Russ to the bench. Despite the risk, just six seconds later, the puck found its way to the stick of the captain Klotz who scored to level the game 5-5.

With the buzzer sounding less than a minute later and the two teams level at five goals apiece, a five-minute overtime period was played. In overtime, Russ stopped four Churchill shots on goal while the Icecats fired two shots at Churchill goalie Macallister Glazer. In total, the Bulldogs outshot the Icecats 34-25.

Time expired after five minutes of overtime, and with no more ice time left in their slot at Rockville Ice Arena, a shootout could not be played, and the game was declared a tie. The tie was the first game that Churchill did not win this season, leaving them 4-0-1.

The Icecats will look to return to their winning ways in their next matchup against Upper Montgomery (0-4-0) on Tuesday, Nov. 21 at Rockville Ice Arena.

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Zoe Ottenritter
Zoe Ottenritter, Online Feature Editor
Senior Zoe Ottenritter is thrilled to be apart of the Pitch as an Online Feature Editor. This is her first year on the Pitch but also enjoys hanging with friends and watching reality TV!
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Seyun Park, Print Editor-in-Chief
Junior Seyun Park is in his third year of the Pitch, happy to join this year as a Print Editor-in-Chief. Outside of Pitch, Seyun plays tennis and cello, and likes to follow hockey.
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