Churchill did in the Maryland Student Hockey League championship game against Marriotts Ridge on Monday night just what it has done all season — dominate.
The Bulldogs (20-2-3) controlled play from start to finish in all three zones to become the first team to win three straight MSHL titles with a 6-1 victory in Laurel. It's their sixth championship overall and fourth in the last five years.
"This is why we work really hard. Our guys really put in a lot of effort and it paid off today," said Churchill coach Ray McKenzie, who is in his 14th season. "I'm really happy for them. ... We've had good players, honestly for about the last seven years. We've been getting good guys and good kids. We've been blessed. We're really lucky."
The Bulldogs, who beat the Mustangs in the 2015 championship game 10-0 and outscored their first three playoff opponents 27-1, scored three goals — including one shorthanded — in the span of less than five minutes to break the game open.
"We like to control the puck in the zone and get our shots from up high," McKenzie said. "It wasn't as easy today, though. That didn't feel like a 3-0 game."
Mustangs coach Armando DiFerdinando said his team didn't back down from the challenge and that the expectation entering the game was to win.
"I feel the coaches didn't do a good enough job. We have to get more practice times to play as a team. They were running a system and we weren't running a great system," he said. "The better team won tonight — no two ways about it. I thought we had our opportunities but we have work to do."
After the goals by Zane Begun, Chance Begun and Jack Taylor in the first, Taylor buried his 34th tally of the year on a power play at 8 minutes, 11 seconds of the second. Andrew Kurapov, who scored seven goals in the championship game last year, followed a little more than six minutes later with his 30th goal of the season to make it 5-0.
"Andrew is our guy," McKenzie said. "He has an unbelievable playoff last year with the seven goals in the finals and this year he had to do a lot more work, a lot more of the little things."
The sense of relief was evident from the Mustangs (16-1) at 6:04 of the third period when David Stephens found the back of the net from a shot from the point on a power play. It was the first goal scored against Churchill in the championship game in 160:03 of play, which spans more than nine periods, and Marriotts Ridge outshot the Bulldogs, 7-6, in the period. Churchill ultimately outshot the Mustangs 50-17 in the game, however, and Hayden Farrand scored on a power play late in the third.