Hockey stays cool on the ice


Photo courtesy of Justin Culp-Gonzalez

Senior Justin Culp-Gonzalez observes the puck as he skates down the ice.

Kyra Wisneski and Matthew Rothmann

MCPS does not recognize hockey as a school funded sport; however, students for years have come together to represent their school on the ice in a league outside of MCPS.

To join the team, no prior experience is needed. “If you want to play on the team, you can, there are no tryouts,” senior Cory Bucy said, “There is a varsity and JV team, but it’s not as strict as other varsity sports in terms of age requirements, meaning that a senior who wants to give it a try can play on JV.”

Although the team is outside of MCPS’s domain, students are still able to represent the RM Rockets and play against other schools in the county. “There are two divisions for MOCO, so we still play teams like Churchill, Whitman, and Rockville,” Bucy said. “At the end of the season, there are playoffs and it goes on to states like all other high school sports.”

However, playing hockey outside of school as a club sport adds a layer of responsibility other student athletes may not face, “Having hockey not related to the [school] presents its challenges,” freshman Arthur Smink said.

One challenge is that, unlike other high school sports, student athletes have to pay to join the team. “We have to pay for everything, like uniforms and ice time,” Bucy said. “[Also] the financial costs may steer people away,” Smink added.

Another challenge is players and coaches only are able to have one practice a week. “Out of school makes it harder to play,” sophomore Drew Deemer said, “It requires transportation on our own and [we have] limited ice time.”

“Having one practice a week isn’t as productive as other sports,” Smink added.

Despite the obstacles of playing outside of MCPS, a unique aspect offered by the hockey team is that the team is coed. “[Being coed] isn’t a big deal for our team, especially because this year we had six girls,” Bucy said.

“In the locker room and on the ice, everyone is chatting and it never really feels awkward,” Bucy said. “It isn’t really a factor sharing the locker room with [the girls]. They add to the environment of the team,” Deemer said.

This past winter season, although the hockey team struggled in the beginning of the season, the Rockets rebounded and had a strong second half of the season.

The locker room environment has been a key part in the Rockets strong success after early struggles as the players were able to bond, come into their own, and ultimately perform better. The Rockets ended the season on a five game win streak to finish 6-7-1.

Junior Trevor Gutmann said, “We have players who are exceptional on defense and others who are at scoring. Players who kill penalties, block shots, and this year everyone has contributed to a role and made us a complete team.”

The Rockets had many key players throughout the year both offensively and defensively in all the games. On offense, Trevor and his brother Luke Gutmann finished first and second with 36 and 20 points, while Dylan Goetz, Connor Pickett and Daniel Martella rounded out the top five with 16, 13, and 11 points respectively for the Rockets offense in 14 games.

Defensively, several key players throughout the season included Mitchell Bobys, Paulina Utochkin, and Joe Hutchinson, along with goalie Julien Piche winning all 6 games for the Rockets.

Despite the challenges, a love for hockey and camaraderie brings these student athletes to the ice.