The Glenelg ice hockey team is doing its best to make the end of the 2012-2013 ice hockey regular season exciting.
And if the Gladiators have their way, the postseason will be even more riveting.
After a 14-8 win over a hobbled River Hill (4-4) team on Wednesday afternoon at the The Gardens Ice House in Laurel, the Gladiators are 6-2 with only two weeks to go before the playoffs. The win pushed Glenelg into a tie with Marriotts Ridge (6-2) for second place in the Howard Conference, behind defending Maryland Student Hockey League Capitals Cup champion Atholton (6-0).
Earlier this week, Glenelg defeated Marriotts Ridge convincingly, 8-3, after losing to the Mustangs, 10-3, back in mid-November.
"To come this far and beat them soundly, 8-3, it shows how far our goalies — we have two brand new goalies (freshman Chris Dillon and junior Nick Totis) — have come," said first-year head coach Chip Harrison. "We've always had a really strong goalie who we relied on. (2012 graduate) Tyler Hough was on Team Maryland. It was always easy to sit back and let him make the saves. Now we've got to play defensively as a team ... we can't just give up breakaways that put a lot of pressure on a young goalie. Everybody's got to get back, the forwards have to come back and regroup and battle. It's a lot of battling for loose pucks and moving it out."
In Wednesday's win over River Hill, Glenelg jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead on goals by Holly Erbe, Tyler Stickley and Karen Hudson, as River Hill was missing starting goalie Will Barrett, who is out for at least three more weeks with a broken hand. The Hawks' leading scorer — junior Casey Carpenter (12 goals, 9 assists) — was also sidelined due to illness.
"We came out and underestimated them, we didn't think it was going to be a close game, especially when we scored the first (three) goals," said Glenelg junior center Johnny Lyons. "We left a lot and stopped shooting, we just let down."
Glenelg's planned blowout quickly became a firefight as River Hill responded with three unanswered goals — two of them by Daniel Schulman — to make it a 4-3 game.
"It was a pretty evenly matched game," said Hawks coach Jerry Martin. "It's hard ... but we're still fighting, we have a good shot of being a competitor in the playoffs."
Glenelg did regain control by the end of the period with three more unanswered goals to make the score 7-3.
The resilient Hawks controlled the second period, though, as Spencer Gray scored twice and Schulman completed his hat trick, to make it a one-goal game heading into the final period. Shasta Braithwaite assisted on all three goals. Gray, Schulman and Braithwaite are all freshmen.
But in the end, Glenelg's depth and experience were too much for the youthful and injury-depleted Hawks.
"We just talked on the bench and got focused, and we realized that it was a really close game, closer than we thought it was going to be when we came out," Lyons said. "We basically just buckled down and started shooting more."
And those shots found the net, as the Gladiators went on a game-breaking 7-0 run to start the third period, including Lyon's third, fourth and fifth goals of the game.
River Hill did not score again until sophomore Ryan Grimes collected a pair of goals with less than three minutes left, accounting for the final score.
Glenelg senior Charles Harrison, the MSHL scoring leader with 26 goals, also had a hat trick for the Gladiators.
He and Lyons, who is tied for second in the MSHL, have combined for 45 goals this season.
"We've got two good lines. Charlie on one line and Johnny on another line. We expect a lot from those guys: win face-offs and set up our players," Chip Harrison said. "They've just got to remember, you can't do it all by yourself. You've got to get everybody else involved."
Glenelg has only one league game remaining, against Mt. Hebron on Jan. 22. The Gladiators, who won an MSHL championship — Howard County's first since 1992 — in 2010, would need Atholton to lose to Howard (4-3), River Hill (4-4) and Mt. Hebron (3-4) down the stretch to have a hope at the regular season Howard County title.
While that seems unrealistic, Glenelg is looking forward to a playoff rematch against the defending champions.
"They beat us by one goal (on Dec. 14). We actually had them, 4-2, with about eight minutes left," Chip Harrison said. "Then they scored with two seconds left to win it, 5-4. So that was a little disappointing, but we're right there."
The Raiders also have an exhibition game against Marriotts Ridge on Feb. 1.
G: Holly Erbe (unassisted), 13:33. [1-0]
G: Tyler Stickley (assisted by Lyons, Erbe), 13:07. [2-0]
G: Karen Hudson (assisted by Lyons), 12:59. [3-0]
RH: Daniel Schulman (unassisted), 12:41. [3-1]
RH: Patrick Evans (assisted by Pinto), 12:16. [3-2]
G: Charles Harrison (assisted by Lyons, Hawkins), 9:22. [4-2]
RH: Daniel Schulman (Power Play, assisted by Braithwaite), 5:54. [4-3]
G: Johnny Lyons (Power Play, unassisted), 3:30. [5-3]
G: Jake Valenze (unassisted), 2:01. [6-3]
G: Johnny Lyons (Power Play, assisted by Park), 1:15. [7-3]
RH: Spencer Gray (Power Play, assisted by Braithwaite, Schulman), 14:27. [7-4]
RH: Spencer Gray (Short Handed, assisted by Braithwaite), 11:42. [7-5]
RH: Daniel Schulman (assisted by Braithwaite), 6:38. [7-6]
G: Tyler Stickley (assisted by Hudson), 14:48. [8-6]
G: Jake Valenze (unassisted), 14:13. [9-6]
G: Johnny Lyons (assisted by Hudson), 11:35. [10-6]
G: Johnny Lyons (Power Play, assisted by Valenze), 8:00. [11-6]
G: Charles Harrison (unassisted), 5:28. [12-6]
G: Charles Harrison (unassisted), 5:16. [13-6]
G: Johnny Lyons (unassisted), 3:35. [14-6]
RH: Ryan Grimes (unassisted), 2:46. [14-7]
RH: Ryan Grimes (Power Play, unassisted), 0:38. [14-8]
Johnny Lyons (G), 5
Charles Harrison (G), 3
Daniel Schulman (RH), 3
Spencer Gray (RH), 2
Ryan Grimes (RH), 2
Jake Valenze (G), 2
Tyler Stickley (G), 2
Holly Erbe (G), 1
Patrick Evans (RH), 1
Karen Hudson (G), 1
Shasta Braithwaite (RH), 4
Johnny Lyons (G), 3
Karen Hudson (G), 2
Holly Erbe (G), 1
William Dalton Hawkins (G), 1
Jun Park (G), 1
Zach Pinto (RH), 1
Daniel Schulman (RH), 1
Jake Valenze (G), 1
Chris Dillon (G), 17
Brady Peters (RH), 13
Nick Totis (G), 2