It can be hard to stay on top after winning a championship.
Eric St. Lawrence saw that when he joined the Severna Park ice hockey program as a varsity assistant coach in 2014 – the year after the Falcons won a Maryland Student Hockey League (MSHL) state title.
The 2014 season was rough as Severna Park went 1-9.
Thankfully, things got better for Severna Park over the next three years when the Falcons posted around a .500 record each season. St. Lawrence quickly put the program on the rise with a string of winning seasons after he took over as head coach in 2016.
“We have really had a solid core that stuck around for a while,” Severna Park senior goalie Alex Auchincloss said. “And we have had great leadership.”
Lately, the Falcons have been playing their best hockey since the championship season.
Severna Park (9-1) sits tied in first place in the MISL’s Eastern Division with South River. The Falcons won the division last year.
“I think a lot of it comes down to goaltending,” St. Lawrence explained of the team’s success. “If you don’t have solid goaltending, you won’t go deep in the playoffs. We have been blessed to have great goalies.”
An infusion of talent every year also helps.
“A couple of local clubs that are feeding Severna Park are improving and the skill level is increasing,” he said, noting Navy Youth Hockey Association, Tri-City, Team Maryland, Washington Little Capitals and the Maryland Black Bears.
Auchincloss played a few seasons for Black Bears before he moved to another club team, the Howard Huskies AA squad, this season.
For Severna Park, the 6-foot-2 Auchincloss provides stability in the goal. He’s 9-1 with a 2.20 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage.
He shut out Queen Anne’s County in a rout and only allowed one goal in the season-opening whitewash of Crofton.
“He can shut down the better shooters in the league,” St. Lawrence said. “He is very athletic, has a great focus on the puck, and is good size. And he’s good at handling the puck.”
The defense of Jake Ciuba, Declan Laughlin, Carson Gloman, Kristina Jones, Keegan Clifford and Beckett Dickman, in front of Auchincloss, protects him well.
The Falcons have given up only 22 goals.
“That first pass is critical to get out of your zone quickly,” St. Lawrence said. “They’re good at figuring out which way to leave the zone, whether it’s up left wall, right wall, or center.”
St. Lawrence added that a couple of his defensemen are good shooters.”
Senior defenseman Ryan LaRocque mans the power play but centers the Falcons’ top line of Mitch Gaudet and Evan Reaser (14 goals, five assists). LaRocque ranks second on the team in goals (10) and leads in assists (15).
“Ryan has a really strong skill set,” St. Lawrence said. “Skating. Hands. He is a hell of a passer and has a hell of a shot. He is a hard player to play against because of his ability to move the puck.”
Now, it’s playoff time for the Falcons. They’ll get a first-round bye.
“I would like to see that again,” St. Lawrence said of winning a state title.
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