Marriotts Ridge coach Armando DiFerdinando figured if basketball players can cut down the net after winning a championship then so can hockey players. So, after an epic comeback and overtime victory against rival Glenelg in the Serio Cup Thursday night at the Columbia Ice Rink, each player took turns cutting small pieces of the net as a keepsake.
“Twenty years of coaching and I’ve never been apart of something that exciting,” DiFerdinando said. “It was just so fun to watch them come together.”
Sophomore forward Ben Watson scored on a 6-on-3 with 12.6 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game at one, and just 1:19 into overtime he scored another power play goal from inside the right circle to help the Mustangs (10-2) avenge last year’s finals loss to the Gladiators (8-5) and win the Howard County title, 2-1, for the third time in four years.
“It was amazing. It felt like could nine,” Watson said of scoring the game-winning goal. “It was just unbelievable. Last year we lost and it was devastating. To get it back like this is in this way is just unbelievable.”
Glenelg senior forward Kevin Lyons scored on the power play 10:12 into the second period, but ultimately the Gladiators couldn’t withstand the number of penalties. They had 25 penalty minutes and 12 total penalties, including three in the final 37 seconds of regulation.
“My goalie [Matt Nagle] stood on his head all game but we had a couple bad penalties at the end and let them back in the game and they took advantage of it,” Glenelg coach Dan Nagle said. “They’re a very talented team and I thought we had them but it wasn’t our year.”
Matt Nagle (28 saves) and the Gladiatiors seemed to be well on their way to a shutout and avenging two losses to Marriotts Ridge earlier this season before the untimely string of penalties. The first was a trip by junior defender David Kelley with 37 seconds to play and a hooking call on sophomore forward Tommy Tracy came just 15 seconds later.
Mustangs goalie Alex Stella (23 saves) was already at the bench when senior defender and captain Harrison Silverston’s shot from near the right circle ricocheted to the other side of goal where Watson was there to clean it up.
“Obviously you’re just relieved. You want to do it for the team. Nothing felt better,” Watson said. “You tie the game and go to overtime with a chance to win and have a 5-on-3.”
A five-minute major penalty to sophomore defender Alex Chizmadia right after the goal kept Glenelg shorthanded two players heading into the extra session, but a holding penalty on Silverston in the opening minute made it a 4-on-3. It didn’t matter, though, as junior forward Sean Jones circled wide around goal and Watson drove to the net. His teammates streamed over the boards moments later.
“He passed it right to my tape and it was just in the net,” Watson said.
The game was evenly played from the start. The Mustangs outshot the Gladiators, 9-5, in the first 15 minutes, and the victors had their best scoring chance midway through the second period when Watson got behind the defense shorthanded. His shot, however, hit the right post, and five minutes later Watson watched from the penalty box as Lyons found the loose puck in front of goal and put Glenelg in front 1-0.
Marriotts Ridge had a full two-minute 5-on-3 five minutes into the third period but couldn’t convert. Matt Nagle made several glove saves to keep his shutout alive until the penalties piled up and doomed the Gladiators’ chances at repeating.
“I’m just so proud of the Marriotts Ridge organization,” DiFerdinando said. “We’re a little 2A school, we have 1,000 kids to pick from, yet three out of four years we’ve won this.”
Both teams qualify for the Maryland Student Hockey League playoffs.