“The kids take the Broadneck-Severna Park rivalry like it’s the Washington Redskins playing the Dallas Cowboys.” That’s how Falcons head coach Eric St. Lawrence described the game between the two teams, which clashed at Bowie Ice Arena on January 10.
Severna Park came into the game undefeated at 6-0-1, a tie with Harford County the only blemish on their record. Broadneck also came in with a strong record at 5-1-1.
The back-and-forth contest was full of intensity, with Broadneck racking up seven penalties and Severna Park accruing five.
Henry McChesney kicked off the scoring for Broadneck in the first period. Less than two minutes later, Severna Park took advantage of a power play after a Broadneck interference penalty. Jake Cuiba scored for the Falcons on an assist from Ryan LaRocque to even the score. Graham Cohen put Broadneck back ahead, 2-1, with 3:45 left in the first period.
St. Lawrence’s message to his team was simple.
“My instruction coach, Dennis, and I told them to play our game, be smart in the defensive zone, be fast in the neutral zone and score some goals,” St. Lawrence said.
The second period was a scoring frenzy. Cuiba scored his second goal to again tie the game before James Terry put Broadneck ahead 3-2. But Severna Park was not ready to concede to their rivals. In the span of two minutes, Severna Park got goals from team captain Johnny Clements and Michael Wiley, who got an assist from LaRocque, to take their first lead, 4-3.
When asked how Severna Park kept their poise, Clements said, “We kept ourselves accountable. I think everyone on the bench was keeping positivity and trying to complement one another. At the end, we all gave 100 percent and worked as a team.”
That lead did not last long, though. With 1:07 left in the second period, Matthew Bonsignore connected with Ryan Kucharski, who scored to tie the game at 4-4.
Both goalies made several stops in the third period. With 11:59 remaining, Clements assisted Ryan Laughlin on the go-ahead goal.
Laughlin credited the team’s passing for their scoring efficiency.
“In practice, we worked with a lot of breakouts and using the open ice and using the passing,” Laughlin said. “The puck moves a lot faster than the player, so we were trying to get a lot of puck movement going instead of skating.”
Cuiba said the wins are a byproduct of the effort players put in on and off the ice.
“We have good chemistry,” Cuiba said. “We all go to school together. It’s like a family.”
Laughlin said, “We have a big group chat, and we all joke together, get dinners together and have fun together.”
The Falcons believe that if they play as a team, they can reach their goal.
“We help each other to know how we’re going to be effective on the ice,” Clements said. “If we work together, I think we have a good chance to win states this year.”
The team started the season without goalie Alex Auchincloss for the beginning of the season. The Broadneck contest was his second game back, so he will continue to knock off the rust.
St. Lawrence said Severna Park has the team to make a playoff run.
“Johnny Clements is our team captain, and some people call him Johnny Hustle because he never stops working,” St. Lawrence said. “Josh Testerman is our alternate captain, and he is just an absolute goal-scorer. Our other alternate captain is Jake Cuiba, a junior. The other captains are seniors. Jake is very skilled.
“We have a strong defensive core,” St. Lawrence continued. “Jake Cuiba, Ryan LaRocque, Keegan Clifford — these guys are all very strong defensemen … their ability to carry and distribute the puck is at the top of the game.”
The biggest obstacle, he said, are teams from Montgomery County and western counties that are comprised of athletes who will all play ice hockey at the next level.
“We have two very strong lines, and the third and fourth lines can hang with any team,” St. Lawrence said. “If we can stay out of the penalty box and play five-on-five hockey, I think we can play anyone.”
Severna Park’s graduating seniors include Ted Glister, Aidan Salb, Ryan Laughlin, John Clements, Josh Testerman, Sam McNeilly, Drew Robinson, Lucas Alpert, Tyler Blue, Elliot Sutherland and Mike Wiley.