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Game Preview: Loudoun County vs. Stone Bridge

by Staff Writer / Washington Capitals

There was an undeniable excitement following the first round of the Washington Capitals High School Game of the Week at Rockville Ice Arena on Nov. 30. The fan response was incredible, both online and at the rink, as Winston Churchill defeated Walt Whitman in Rockville, Md. The success of the first High School Game of the Week carried over to the second round of voting which received even more votes as the Loudoun County vs. Stone Bridge matchup, scheduled for a 9:20 puck drop tonight at the Ashburn Ice House in Ashburn, Va., was selected as the second Game of the Week winner.

The two teams hail from the Norris Division of the Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League (NVSHL). Stone Bridge won the 2011-12 NVSHL Championship, finishing the regular season with a record of 10-0-0 before going 3-0-0 en route to their second-consecutive league title. Early this season the Stone Bridge Bulldogs have picked up right where they left off, jumping out to a 4-0-0 record while outscoring their opponents 39-1 in that span. Stone Bridge has not lost a regular-season league game since the 2007-08 season.

The Bulldogs are led by Trevor Mack and Cade Groton, who are both tied for second in the NVSHL in points (15). Their linemate Chris Berry fills out the formidable first line and has contributed 13 points this season. The Stone Bridge blueline is anchored by Eric Rindfleisch and Patrick O’Connor, both very solid two-way defensemen. To complement the Stone Bridge offense, the Bulldogs boast one of the best one-two threats in goal as goaltenders Martin Trivieri and Colin McNelis have combined to allow just one goal in four games.

Loudoun County has dropped three straight after a 10-0 win over McLean to start the season. Despite their 1-3-0 record, the Raiders have outscored their opponents 17-14 this season. Ryan Brown leads the team with 13 points and ranks tied for second in the league with nine goals. Loudoun County is also strong in net as goaltender Ben Zienty owns a 0.43 goals-against average in three games this season.

Both teams are excited to be featured in the second Capitals High School Game of the Week.

“When we were selected into the voting to be the game of the week, the players went and rallied to get the school to vote and show their pride,” says Loudoun head coach John Peterson. “This event will highlight their years of dedication.”

“The Capitals have always been good for local hockey, especially high schools,” says Stone Bridge head coach John Lynch. “Most of the SBHC players, coaches and family are Caps fans. They [the Capitals] will bring extra enthusiasm to the game.”

As with Maryland, Northern Virginia has seen a growth in hockey over the years.

“It’s been impressive [growth of local hockey]; we had enough interest and skaters to have a SB hockey team in the school’s first year of existence back in 2000-01,” says Lynch. “We are very fortunate to be located so close to Ashburn Ice House because of their support in setting up the NVSHL.”

“I’ve been in the area most of my life and it’s incredible to see how much the sport has grown,” says Peterson. “I think Ted Leonsis’ turnaround of the Capitals has a lot to do with this, but it’s also the parents that have moved in from Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania that have really built up the local teams and clubs.”

Loudoun County will try to hand Stone Bridge its first regular-season loss while the Bulldogs look to continue their hot start this season. Make sure to check out for game analysis and interviews with players and coaches following the second Capitals High School Game of the Week.

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