The George Mason High School club ice hockey team, partnering with West Potomac, defeated O’Connell High School 7-3 in its final game of the regular season last Wednesday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington.
Junior captain Hunter Olson put the Mustangs up 20 seconds into the contest, sneaking a shot low to the far post past O’Connell goalie Zach Wilson. Four minutes later, Olson struck again with a shot over Wilson’s blocker to make it 2-0. The Mustangs’ WestPo teammate Bobby Soule then notched number three, and Connor Rhodes added number four with assists from Sam Allan and Tyler Taylor. The game appeared a runaway as Mason went up 4-0 at the end of the first period.
O’Connell came out determined in the second period, though, tightening its defense and putting together its own offensive runs. The Mustang defensemen, led by juniors Jack Stricker and Adam Fendley, denied the Knights any serious chances, as O’Connell’s Phillip Koch and Hayden Basse returned the favor on the other end. The period appeared destined to end without a score until, with 10 seconds left, the Knight defensemen mixed their signals and both skated high in an effort to poke the puck out of their zone. As Fendley managed to keep the puck inside the blue line, Olson grabbed it and circled toward the goal. Seeing his teammate would have one last shot, Williamson moved in front of the abandoned O’Connell goalie, screening him and allowing Olson to whip the puck unseen into the back of the net. With three seconds remaining in the period, the Mustangs were up 5-0.
O’Connell finally got on the board early in the third period when Tabby Wood skated the puck behind the Mason goal and passed to Reagan Hogan on the left hash mark, who slipped it out to Basse on the point. Basse’s slap shot caught the underside of the crossbar for a goal, making the score 5-1. A few minutes later, O’Connell’s Matt Klein scored off of assists from Nico Blanchfield-Felice and Jethro Torczon to make it 5-2, giving the Knights hope of a late-game comeback.
But the Mustangs’ top line put an end to the O’Connell run when Olson, Williamson, Davis, Stricker, and Fendley played keep away for 30 seconds in the Knights’ end until Davis found an opening and slipped it past Wilson to make it 6-2. Two minutes later, the Mustangs stuck in the dagger with the highlight reel goal of the evening, as Williamson passed to Olson on the right, and then repositioned to the left of the goal. Olson deked a defenseman and skated directly at Wilson, forcing Wilson to square up in goal, and leaving Williamson open on the far side. Olson’s return pass to Williamson was buried behind the O’Connell goalie, making the score 7-2.
With 1:36 remaining, O’Connell completed the scoring for the night when Blanchfield-Felice whacked the puck through a scrum in front of the net to make it 7-3.
The Mustangs’ win gives the team a final record of 5-4-1 in the Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League, its first winning season since the team’s inaugural season of 2010-11. The team will take a month off before participating in the Kettler Spring League beginning in March.