Hockey Strides for First Playoff Visit

Charlie Niber, Head Sports Editor

For some it was tears, but others were rightful cheers after the Cougars defeated the Fauquier/Highland hockey team on December 20th by the score of 5-4. The co-ed hockey team is currently in their second season after combing with Liberty high school and sits atop all other combined teams in the Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League (NVSHL). With only 3 games remaining in the season, the team looks to win at least one of their remaining games, clinching a playoff berth and a potential Fauquier/Highland rematch. 

     In their first season with the Kettle Run/Liberty hockey program, coaches Brian Lehman and Dave Wise scheduled two practices this year to keep the team on the ice together outside of the 10 regular season games. The first practice was held on November 26th, prior to the first game, to develop a plan and organize balanced lines for the season. Wise and Lehman hosted a practice on January 7th as well to prepare the team for the final stretch of the season and hopefully the playoffs. “I feel confident in our group of skaters to go give every team we play a tough challenge and end up one goal ahead of our opponents. This year Dave and I hosted practices so we could rally the team together and develop chemistry.” Coach Lehman said. 

     Potentially the teams biggest game of the season was played hours after kids were let out for winter break. This years tilt with Fauquier had much more than bragging rights on the line. Before the game, Coach Wise rallied his team together and announced the news that this game was more than a rivalry, “If you guys want any hope of making the playoffs, it starts tonight. We have control of our own destiny and have little to no room for error.” His words motivated the team to hit the ice as fast as possible for the entire game. 

     Skill is not a lack of concern at all with the team this season. This year’s team is special due to the depth of the roster. “This years team has been very fun to coach because of the skill myself and Dave have to work with. The final stretch should be very fun and every point matters. I’m looking forward to it.” Coach Lehman said. Freshman Matt and Jake Green have become a very lethal duo on the ice as they’ve continued to produce every game. “Getting scoring from our younger kids boosts everyone’s confidence and lightens the load for the upperclassmen.” Junior Garrett Ritter said.

    The team has one final game against Flint Hill. With a win, the team would clinch it’s spot in the playoffs and look to play in the provisional championship at the Ashburn Ice House.