Eric Yingling turned his head and looked the other way.
"That's the ugliest shot I've ever seen," said the Howard junior after taking a wrist shot from just inside the blue line.
Atholton's Duncan Brooks, who seconds earlier had finished serving a two-minute roughing penalty, wasn't impressed, either.
"It looked like it wasn't going into the net," Brooks said. "I wasn't worried about it."
Then the whistle blew.
Yingling turned again and, suddenly, was being congratulated by teammates. That's when he knew: The ugly shot went in.
Yingling's second goal of the game, with 2:08 left to play, culminated a three-goal rally by Howard that lifted the Lions past Atholton, 4-3, Friday afternoon at The Gardens Ice House in Laurel.
Howard goalie Brian Moscoe called it "the real county championship." One could certainly make the case that he is right.
When the Maryland Scholastic Hockey League adopted a two-tier system this season, it chose Howard and Atholton from Howard County to be in the first tier. For a number of reasons, Howard and Atholton have been overmatched. Entering Friday's game, Howard was 0-5 and had been outscored, 37-10. Atholton was 0-4 and had been outscored, 37-4.
Friday's game represented the best chance for victory. For once this season, the sides would be equal.
"This was our chance to win," Brooks said. "We'll probably go 0-10."
It was an entertaining game for the fans -- mostly parents -- and fun for the athletes. Many of the players know each other from club hockey; some play on the same team.
In fact, Tingling and Atholton goalie Stephen Otte among others are on the Howard County Youth Hockey Club's midget A team.
Said Otte of Yingling s game winner: "My defensemen were in the way, and I didn't see the shot. By the time I saw it, it was close enough to the net that I had to hit it. It hit the inside of my blocker and went right under my arm. It was basically a fluke goal."
Atholton, which took a 3-1 second-period lead on goals by Isaac Treem, Brad Klukas and Brooks, had a great opportunity to break the 3-3 tie when Yingling was called for roughing and Howard received a bench minor with 6:29 to play. That gave Atholton a two player advantage for two minutes.
But with T.J. Clay, who scored Howard's first goal, and Erek Dixon and Dan Fritz in front of him, Moscoe repeatedly came up with big saves.
"He kept us in the game," said Howard coach Michael Rand, who works at the Justice Department.
"I was where I needed to be when I needed to be there," said Moscoe, who is playing goalie only because the team needed one and he volunteered.
"That was not a good sign," said Atholton coach Jacquie Dzubak, a hockey player herself for two years at Atholton and now a teacher at Oakland Mills. "We couldn't buy a goal at that point. It just wasn't happening for us."
Dzubak said her team "played hard" but became "a little overconfident [with a 3-1 lead], and Howard capitalized on us." She also credited Moscoe with having "a great game."
Moscoe held Atholton scoreless the last 27 minutes and 47 seconds. "After they scored that third goal, I got real angry," Moscoe said. "I told myself that they wouldn't score again and that we would win the game."
Goals by Yingling and Kevin Lyons 52 seconds apart tied the game at 3 with 5:50 left in the second period.
Because they are in the first tier, Howard and Atholton won't face another county team this season. Instead, they will go back to being underdogs.
But for 45 minutes Friday, everything was right. That the game was decided by a goal -- no matter how ugly -- was only fitting.
We want to play them again," Atholton's Treem said as he left the locker room.
Now there's a holiday wish.
Pub Date: 12/22/96