Following a 5-1 playoff loss to Oakdale on February 23, some Severna Park ice hockey players consoled their teammates with pats on the shoulder. Some parents in the stands embraced and shed tears. The loss marked the end of a long journey for seniors, including Jake Ciuba and Ryan LaRocque.
“One wears the C and one wears the A, but they are actually captain one and captain two,” said assistant coach Dennis Gaudet. “[Head coach] Eric St. Lawrence and I both told them from day one, ‘This is your team.’ We use their voice at practice, we made them mentors for the underclassmen, and they’re leaders in the classrooms. They’re leaders in the locker room, they’re leaders on the ice and they’re the driving force behind our success. It starts and ends with them, and with [goalie] Alex Auchincloss.”
Those three players and their teammates played hard throughout the playoff matchup at the Gardens Ice House in Laurel.
Oakdale scored less than three minutes into the contest as junior Eli Corridon-Crum skated around the goal and buried a shot from the short side. The team stayed aggressive, attempting another shot that was saved by Auchincloss and getting two more opportunities that were thwarted by the stick of junior defenseman Keegan Clifford.
Auchincloss was under heavy pressure in the first period. He used his glove to nab a puck near his chest, and sophomore Elizabeth Jones cleared the puck before Auchincloss made another save. Moments later, he redirected a low shot by dropping to his knees. He then made a sliding save to keep Severna Park’s deficit at one.
Auchincloss had 22 saves through the first two periods, but Oakdale’s offense continued to create chances. LT Farley scored from the slot with 3:57 remaining in the first period, giving Oakdale a 2-0 lead. Pierce Brenner — who, along with junior forward Evan Reaser, led the Falcons with 14 goals this season — shot wide of the goal and had another attempt that ricocheted off the post.
Oakdale had 16 shots on goal compared to Severna Park’s four in the first period, but the Falcons flipped the script in the second period with 13 shots, five more than Oakdale. Still, it wasn’t enough.
After an Auchincloss save early in the third period, Oakdale got a rebound and Corridon-Crum scored 10 seconds later to put Oakdale ahead 3-0. Severna Park scored their lone goal with 6:20 left in the third period as Ciuba passed to Reaser in the crease, where Reaser snuck a shot past Oakdale goalie Devin Brown. Trying to keep the rally going, Ciuba then split the defense and attempted a shot, but he was robbed by Brown.
Oakdale closed out their win by getting two empty-net goals in the last two minutes. Ayden Rowe took a shot near the center line for Oakdale’s fourth goal and Corridon-Crum earned a hat trick, scoring on an assist from Kyle Metzier with 7.5 seconds left.
The loss was deflating, but no one on Severna Park’s squad questioned the team’s effort.
“We dug ourselves a hole early in the game and we tried to climb out of it as best we could,” said LaRocque, who led the Falcons in points this year, pairing 11 goals with 15 assists. “But throughout the entire year, our energy has been there — first period, second period and third period.”
After the game, Severna Park players reflected on a season in which they went 9-2 before having an off night against Oakdale.
“We had a young squad this year, so we really didn’t know how we were going to do coming into it,” Ciuba said. “We proved a lot of people wrong. Our freshman and sophomores worked. It’s not the outcome we want, but we’re going to build off that.”
That task will be up to the returning players. As coaches, St. Lawrence and Dennis Gaudet see plenty of reasons to be optimistic about next season. The team has a strong core with juniors Sam Testerman, Trevor Salb, Kiran Spencer, Mitch Gaudet and Reaser; sophomores Brenner and Jones; and freshmen Henry Marriner and Declan Laughlin, among others.
But for now, the players are celebrating their team captains and their influence on the program.
“Jake, since freshman year, has been the pinpoint of our D,” LaRocque said. “Everybody looks to him. Alex made some amazing saves today. He’s been standing on his head for us in the playoffs. Our captains are a good squad. We’ve been together since freshman year and have been on a run every year for states, so it was fun.”
Auchincloss praised his current squad as well as former teammates Johnny Clements and Josh Testerman.
“One thing I learned with this team is there is always a chance,” Auchincloss said, “but now, reflecting on my four years, I say cherish it while you can because it goes by so fast.”