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The Tide

The Student News Site of Richard Montgomery High School

The Tide

The Student News Site of Richard Montgomery High School

The Tide

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Rockets fall short in playoff battle against Warriors

Rocket+goalie+senior+Henry+Darko+makes+a+save+in+a+RM+varsity+hockey+game.+
Asher Herman
Rocket goalie senior Henry Darko makes a save in a RM varsity hockey game.

In a close ice hockey playoff matchup Friday night at the Rockville Ice Arena, the Rockets failed to capitalize on chances in front of the net and fell 2-1 to the Sherwood Warriors.

Playoff energy filled the air and the Rockets came out of the locker room with one aim in mind: hit Noi Jonasson hard. Jonasson, Sherwood’s Icelandic center, torched the Rockets in their last outing and led the Warriors to an 8-3 win. On Friday, it was clear the Rockets tried to hinder his abilities early.

“We started off the game knowing that Noi [Jonasson] would be quite the challenge,” RM captain senior Jaxson Hartle said. “We decided to be successful we had to hit Noi hard, making him play far more hesitant.”

Unfortunately, the Rocket’s scrappy start led to senior Nathan Lynch being penalized for holding with 11 minutes left in the first period. Only a minute later, Sherwood was called for a penalty and each squad played one man down. 

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Jonasson took control of the situation, glided past the Rocket defense, and passed to teammate Oz Sacks who scored the game’s opening goal. This put an even bigger target on Jonasson’s back and he suffered a barrage of hits for the remainder of the game.

“After a rough couple of first shifts, I had to take a deep breath and focus on the next period,” Lynch said. “I had to go out there and focus on the next play and put the last play behind me.”

With minutes left in the first period, junior Lester Benitez found a loose puck in front of the net and slid it past Sherwood’s goalie to tie the game and electrify Rockets fans. Shortly after, Sherwood managed to dump the puck behind the Rocket’s net with seconds winding down in the first, and Benitez landed a huge hit on Jonasson. The Rocket crowd jeered at Jonasson and it appeared the Rockets had momentum going into the second.

“The goal was super important and it gave the entire team hope that we were still in it,” senior John Yang said. “We always skate as hard as we can.”

However, a tripping call on Hartle with 9:15 left in the second period put the Warriors on a powerplay. Sherwood’s Winkler quickly netted the power play goal giving the Warriors a 2-1 lead. The Rockets’ momentum dissipated, and they had to defend for the majority of the second period. 

“We talked at the beginning of the game about staying positive and winning each shift,” Coach Hinsvark said. “Sherwood has one of the best power plays in the state and we need to work more on our power play kill.”

To make matters worse, a penalty was called on RM’s Tom Stone with two minutes left in the second period. The defensive efforts exhausted the Rockets for the rest of the game. RM only produced two shots on goal for the second period, and they appeared deflated. Coach Hinsvark looked animated in the intermission speech to the team.

“Coach Hinsvark is very relatable and makes you feel comfortable,” senior forward Jack Evans said. “He makes you feel motivated and want to win.”

The Rockets did not make it easy for Sherwood to close out the game. To open the third period, the Rockets drew two penalties that sent Sherwood skaters to the penalty box. But the Rockets were unable to convert on what could have been their best opportunity to tie the game.

During a scramble in the Rocket’s defensive zone, sophomore Connor Rosier appeared to be dragged down by a Sherwood forward. To much of the crowd’s surprise, Rosier was called for a penalty and sent to the box with 8:43 left in the game. Both teams traded penalties throughout the game, and this trend continued just a minute later when Sherwood was called for tripping, leaving each team with four skaters on the ice. On this shift, both teams skated hard and emptied their tanks. Sherwood hit the post and Benitez hit Sherwood’s goalie in the neck causing an injury time-out.

With time winding down, Stone aggressively challenged a Sherwood forward and was called for tripping. On the resulting powerplay, Hartle blocked a shot close to the blue line, valiantly got up and skated the puck toward the other net, and nearly tied the game up shorthanded. Hartle valorously battled throughout the game and throughout the season, uplifting his teammates during adversity.

“Being captain was always a goal of mine and I am glad I got the opportunity to lead such a talented group of individuals,” Hartle said. “I have high hopes for the next few years of RM hockey and am excited to see young talent evolve and develop.”

I have high hopes for the next few years of RM hockey and am excited to see young talent evolve and develop.

— Jaxson Hartle

As time expired and abruptly ended the Rockets’ season, the close score was credited to goalie Henry Darko for saving 37 shots out of 39-a 94.8 save percentage. His performance kept the Rockets in this game.

“I think I played well, I got above my 90 percent save quota,” Darko said. “I did my part, but I am sad we lost.”

For faithful fans of Rockets Hockey, the 2024 season continues when the JV Rockets face off against the Montgomery Blair Blazers at 8:20 PM in Rockville’s Rink three. RM has another chance to win a trophy this school year, and the JV squad needs as much crowd support as possible.

“We love our fans because they pump up our players and we are very supportive of them,” Hinsvark said.

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About the Contributor
Jacob Swibel, Sports Writer