Two area hockey clubs take center stage at Verizon Center


Offense trumped defense Thursday night at Verizon Center, but unfortunately for several area hockey stars, their contributions were minimal.

The Washington Capitals and Montreal Canadiens combined to score nine goals in the game, but two Fairfax County hockey clubs teamed to score only once during their between-period shootout and skills challenge.

Not to say the event wasn’t entertaining, as Woodson and Hayfield/South County battled to a riveting overtime finish in the finals of the 2007-08 Washington Times One-On-One Shootout and Skills Challenge.

Hayfield/South County eventually won the contest for the second straight year they also topped Woodson in 2007 when goaltender Greg Hyde thwarted an attempt from Woodson’s Ian Alexander in sudden-death overtime.

It was a lot of fun,” said Hayfield/South County goaltender Greg Hyde, who competed in this event for the third straight year. “There were a lot of fans there, and we know the other team really well. It was really friendly, and it was a great [Capitals’] game. It went down right to the end.

The format is simple. Both teams feature two skaters and a goaltender. The contest consists of a relay race and two shootout attempts by each player. One point is awarded for a relay win, while another is handed out for a goal scored in the shootout.

To start, both players skated the length of the ice and left the puck for a waiting teammate, who would then skate the length of the ice in the opposite direction to determine a winner.

Some struggled more than others.

Alexander caught a nick on the ice near the end of his sprint, but despite taking a spill, he was still able to dish the puck to teammate John Loveland. By this time, Hayfield/South County’s speedy tandem of Melvin Nichols and Matt Milano had a two-second lead on the Cavaliers. Nichols and Milano finished first and took a one-point advantage into the shootout.

I was proud of them, said Woodson coach Keith Dean, whose team will play Hayfield/South County Friday in Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League action. I think they made both schools look good.

Neither team scored in the opening round of the shootout. Alexander tried to get flashy, knocking the puck between his legs from his stick to his skate and back again to his stick, but his wrister was eventually turned aside by Hyde.

[Hyde] is the goalie for my club team, so he knows all of my moves, said Alexander, who has five goals (11 points) this season for Woodson. I was pretty much kaput when it came to scoring. But [Loveland] did well … got one five hole.

Five hole is hockey parlance for between a goalie’s legs, and Loveland did exactly that. In the second round, Loveland fired a wrist shot from the left-side of the slot to knot the score at one and force overtime.

The overtime scenario was agreed upon during a coin flip prior to the event. It was decided that Woodson would shoot, while Hyde would try and thwart the attempt.

Winner takes all.

Alexander’s attempt struck a post and crashed off the boards to the side of the net, finalizing Hayfield/South County’s second win in as many years.

But discard winning and losing … both teams still enjoyed the experience.

For the last couple of weeks they’ve been thinking about it. They’ve been working on their penalty shots, said Dean. They took it real seriously and they were excited by it. I think it’s a great program that the Capitals are running, and especially for a high school hockey league.

Hayfield/South County coach David Hyde – a good friend of Dean’s – felt the event was worthwhile as well.

It’s neat because you do get some exposure,” Hyde said. “We don’t get a lot of exposure within the schools because we’re clubs teams.

I’m also a believer that one needs to do the fun things in life, and this clearly means very little, yet it’s a lot of fun to do.

And just in case anyone wanted goal-scoring advice, Washington’s Alex Ovechkin scored four times including the game-winner in overtime as the Capitals won, 5-4.