Marriotts Ridge ice hockey coach Chip Sheehan knew what his team was going up against when it faced Winston Churchill in the Maryland Student Hockey League finals.
The Bulldogs were riding an 18-game winning streak, having outscored their last 11 opponents 90-12.
But knowing what their opponent was capable of did not adequately prepare the Mustangs for what it saw on the ice on Friday night.
Winston Churchill (20-1) scored five times in the first period en route to a 10-0 rout.
"They really exposed our weaknesses," Sheehan said. "We dug our hole pretty early and that’s a good hockey team. They made a run through us and Atholton and we knew we were going to have our hands full."
Winston Churchill, which won its third MSHL state title in the last five years, defeated 2012 champion Atholton in an exhibition game earlier this season.
While Winston Churchill was not honored with any all-state selections, the Bulldogs's strength all season has been its deep and talented roster.
"I think we were the deeper team and I think we came out with more energy to start the game," said junior Philip Satin, who scored a goal and added three assists. "This entire season we have been wearing teams down, even when we're not playing well. We're still deeper and we can go longer in games than they can ... if you have four lines playing great than no one can stop you."
Marriotts Ridge (13-3), which lost to Atholton in the final game of the regular season but avenged that loss in the Howard County Cup championship game, called a time out midway through the first period to regroup. But that didn't stop the Bulldogs from scoring twice in the last 45 seconds of the first period.
When Bulldogs senior Ross Allen (three goals, two assists) scored less than a minute into the second period, Sheehan knew that his team was in for a long night.
"It was obviously a monumental task by the start of the second period, but we were trying to win the little battles," he said. "When they got a goal right off the bat that took the wind right out of our sails. Any traction that we were going to try to gain was already lost."
The Gardens Ice House in Laurel was packed nearly to capacity for the game, with equal representation from both teams. But the Winston Churchill fans had much more to cheer about throughout the game.
"Our fans were amazing, there were a lot of people," Satin said. "We had a post on the first shift and from there on it was just our game ... I thought they were a very solid team, I just think we were just better. I don't know how else to say it. We've been practicing at 5:30 in the morning, we've been looking forward to this day the entire year and we marked this day on the calendar on the first day of the year."
Despite the lopsided outcome, Sheehan would not let the game diminish his team's accomplishments this season. The Mustangs never resorted to cheap penalties, playing with dignity for the full 45 minutes, well after the game was out of hand.
"We've got a good, level-headed group," said Sheehan, who used a time out late in the third period. "I took that time out because our guys really needed a break. Normally you don't take a time out when you're down by 10 goals but our guys were just gassed. I wanted to make sure that everybody was safe and no one was going to get injured."
Winston Churchill, whose only loss was to Gonzaga back on Nov. 12, added another chapter to its storied ice hockey legacy of success.
"Thirteen or fourteen kids play club and travel hockey," Satin said. "This team is special ... this was just surreal."