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Tommy Tracy leads Glenelg ice hockey to Serio Cup win over Marriotts Ridge

Tommy Tracy and the Gladiators didn’t panic.

The Glenelg ice hockey team was trailing by one goal with less than 10 minutes remaining in the Serio Cup championship against Marriotts Ridge.

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The Gladiators aren’t strangers to high-pressure moments, and Tracy has come through for his teammates in the past.

Tracy, who scored a key goal in Glenelg’s last Serio Cup championship, did it again Thursday night. Midway through the third period, the junior forward scored two goals within barely a minute of each other to bring the Gladiators back for a 3-2 win over the Mustangs to reclaim the Serio Cup trophy.

“It’s an unreal feeling,” Tracy said. “Hopefully, we’ll win it next year and get three in our four years. It’s great, especially after last year when (Marriotts Ridge) scored with 12 seconds left (in regulation) and in overtime. I’m so happy for everyone on the team, especially the seniors.”

Glenelg head coach Dan Nagle said Tracy’s goals on Thursday reminded him of his equalizing goal in the 2018 Serio Cup against Marriotts Ridge, which the Gladiators won in comeback fashion.

“Big-time players make big-time plays,” Nagle said. “Two years ago when we won the Cup, he scored the equalizer when we were (losing). I have complete faith in Tommy every time he’s on the ice, not just to make the hockey plays but to be an an on-ice coach to make sure everybody is doing the right thing.”

The title is Glenelg’s sixth since 2008 and third in the last five seasons. The Gladiators and the Mustangs have been trading the Serio Cup for the last five seasons. Glenelg won the crown in 2016, 2018 and now 2020, while the Mustangs brought the Cup home to Marriottsville in 2017 and 2019.

“There’s no better feeling in Howard County hockey than to bring the Serio Cup home,” Nagle said. “If I’m going to bring the Cup back to Glenelg, let it be after a game like tonight. It’s always fun to play them. Tonight was our night, but it just as easily could’ve been theirs.”

While Tracy was confident in the Gladiators’ ability to come back, his goalie was a little more nervous. Once Glenelg (12-2-1) took the lead, first-year goalie Blake Hunter said he was “very nervous" when tasked to hold the team’s first lead of the game.

“I was shaking a little bit,” Hunter said. “It was scary. I just tried to keep it together and keep my composure.”

But Hunter came up big in the final five minutes. First, he registered multiple saves during a Marriotts Ridge power play and then stopped the Mustangs’ last good scoring opportunity with about 90 seconds remaining. Hunter finished the game with 18 saves.

“Blake seems to thrive under pressure,” Nagle said. “The more pressure, the more he stands on his head. If we didn’t have him, I don’t want to think about how the night would’ve turned out.”

Prior to Tracy’s goals, Marriotts Ridge (11-1-1) controlled the game and seemed to be poised to win its second straight title.

In front of a raucous crowd at the packed Columbia Ice Rink, Marriotts Ridge junior Garrett Smith gave the Mustangs a 1-0 lead with a goal less than two minutes into the game. The Gladiators, however, responded 22 seconds later with a goal of their own when Chris Barnard scored off assists from Noah Kowalczyk and Carson Stickley.

Smith then gave the Mustangs a 2-1 lead later in the first period. The forward had a breakaway and sneaked a wrist shot past Hunter and into the top left corner of the net.

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Marriotts Ridge forward Ben Watson tied the game with 12.6 seconds left in regulation and then scored 1:19 into overtime to help the Mustangs beat Glenelg, 2-1, in the Serio Cup in Columbia on Feb. 7.

Neither team scored for the next 26 minutes, but Glenelg was winning the possession and shot battle. Tracy’s first goal was during a power play off an assist from Stickley. His second was a backhand after a perfectly placed pass from Barnard.

“We thought we had a good game plan defensively, but they were the better team today,” said Marriotts Ridge coach Jacob Beschner. “I have a lot of respect for Glenelg, and they deserved it.”

Despite the loss, Beschner — who head coach Armando DiFerdinando said would be taking over the program after DiFerdinando steps down at the end of the season — said he was “proud” of how his team fought.

The rivalry between the Glenelg and Marriotts Ridge ice hockey teams is one of the fiercest in Howard County. The combination of the large crowd at the ice rink, the violent nature of hockey and the importance of the game created an intense atmosphere.

“To me, there is no better moment than Serio Cup night,” Nagle said. "It’s great to see the stands packed, and the amount of energy the fans gave the players is unrivaled.”

Both teams will move on to the Maryland Scholastic Hockey League playoffs, which begin next week.

BOX SCORE:

Glenelg 3, Marriotts Ridge 2

G (12-2-1) — 1 0 2 — 3

MR (11-1-1) — 2 0 0 — 2

Goals: G — T. Tracy 2, C. Barnard; MR — G. Smith 2.

Assists: G — C. Stickley 2, N. Kowalczyk, Barnard.

Saves: G — Blake Hunter 18; MR — Gavin Ross 21.

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