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Tuscarora/Heritage Defeats Loudoun County 9-5


Hockey photoBy Hanna Duenkel

It’s a little known fact that the Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League (NVHSL) exists, so when Loudoun County High School hosted the combined Tuscarora/Heritage team on February 6th at the Ashburn Ice House, the game was very lively and intimate, with the rivalries between Loudoun County and Tuscarora/Heritage visibly running strong.  Tuscarora and Heritage high schools are usually known for their minor athletic rivalry, but the two schools teamed together in the NVHSL to create a full hockey team, with an adequate number of defensemen, forwards, and a lone goalie.

The game started out quickly, with the first goal of the matchup whizzing from the center of the right faceoff circle and past the Loudoun County goalie, senior Kaeley Dicks, in just 41 seconds.  Heritage senior defenseman Zack Jones’ first of three goals created the fast paced tempo that both teams kept up with, flinging shots from the blue line and stampeding the goal, which blocked the goaltender’s vision and allowed the puck to slip into the netting.

It took just over six minutes until the reaction goal by Loudoun County’s senior Jack Klerekoper slid past Tuscarora/Heritage goalie and Tuscarora sophomore, Grant Pluth, and evened out the score for the first of three times that night.

Loudoun County continued on a shooting streak with Klerekoper’s second goal, a slapshot from the blue line that skidded by Pluth to give the home team the upper hand at 2-1.

With Loudoun County leading 2-1, the score was not tied again until 4 minutes and 53 seconds into the second period.  Heritage’s Jones scored again against Loudoun County’s second goalie of the game, junior Dan Toth, in a penalty kill situation caused by a cross checking penalty by Tuscarora senior Kyle Torrance.

The shorthanded goal brought the team to a level score with their rivals, but the tie was short lived, when Klerekoper had two more goals in a 19-second span in the second period, beginning at 10 minutes and 53 seconds, and raising the score to Loudoun County leading 4-2.

“Coach told us to be careful about getting penalties and play smart,” said Tuscarora junior and forward Ali Adra.  “We all focused and did our part, and the whole team came together and made it happen.”

The final goal of the busy second period was by Tuscarora senior Ryan Torrance, which started Tuscarora/Heritage’s comeback, with the visiting team trailing behind 4-3.

For at least the first half of the third quarter, the game was close, with Loudoun County’s senior Logan Kelliher scoring in the first 9 seconds and then Tuscarora/Heritage responding 1 minute and 30 seconds later with another goal by Jones during a power play situation for Tuscarora/Heritage.

Loudoun County’s Klerekoper was in the penalty box due to a cross checking penalty and was serving his two minutes when Jones sent a slap shot from point position straight to the goal.  By then, the score was 5-4, favoring Loudoun County, the last time the home team had a lead in the game.

“We always have a game plan.  Before the game, we really talked about what we would do on a power play and how we’d capitalize on it,” said sophomore Cameron Florence, a forward for Tuscarora/Heritage.  “It was all about execution and how we’d get the puck into place.  I think that it turned out really well for us.”

From there, Tuscarora/Heritage dominated the final few minutes of the period, connecting slick passes and tossing pucks into the nets through well executed passes and shots.  Tuscarora senior forward Matt Moore had a quick wrist shot that zoomed past Toth, evening out the score yet another time for Tuscarora/Heritage at 5-5.

A little over a minute later, Tuscarora/Heritage slipped the puck past the goalkeeper yet again with a goal by Kyle Torrance, giving the visiting team the upper hand for the first time since the opening goal by Jones.  35 seconds later, Florence extended the lead to 5-7 in his first of two goals.

Another 55 seconds later, Heritage’s Kat Burke and Tuscarora/Heritage drew out the lead to 5-8 and secured a very lengthy lead in the game, with 4 minutes and 22 seconds left in the matchup.

Trailing their rivals by 3 goals, Loudoun County pulled their goalie in exchange for an extra attacker to battle Tuscarora/Heritage, which ended up backfiring on them when Tuscarora’s Florence scored at the empty net with a game-winning goal that took the score to 5-9.  For the final minute and 12 seconds, the score didn’t change, but Loudoun County put Toth back into the net to ensure that Tuscarora/Heritage’s lead wouldn’t progress even further.

“I didn’t see the goal wide open.  I just got the puck and I didn’t know what I was going to do with it.  Time was running low and it turned into a high scoring game,” said Florence.

As the teams skated onto the ice to shake hands, several Tuscarora/Heritage athletes could be heard happily calling out “Where’s my goalie,” to Pluth, who was skating back from his spot at the netting.

With this win, Tuscarora/Heritage broke their six game losing streak, but lost two days later to Bishop Ireton, which ended their season with a 2-8 record.

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