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Depth and goaltending bolster Woodbridge hockey

At Saturday’s Virginia-Maryland All-Star hockey game, scheduled for 5 p.m. at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, four players will represent No. 9 Woodbridge, including the team’s entire top scoring line of Dylan Talbot and twins, Tony and Seve Cordova.

With 45 points -- and 18 of the team’s 39 goals -- between them, the trio has developed into a consistent scoring machine and is quite arguably the primary reason the Vikings are 5-0.

“Those guys really control the game,” said Woodbridge Coach Mike Strycharz, whose team has posted wins over Langley, Paul VI and Forest Park within a seven-day window this month.

But another important part of the Woodbridge offense, Strycharz said, has been the team’s second line of Mitch Lawson, Brian Shields and Taylor Bachmann.

Though the stats aren’t necessarily as gaudy -- the trio has totaled 17 points -- the second line has been able to wear down opponents, Strycharz said. And with its sound decision-making, the second line hasn’t committed any silly turnovers that have translated into momentum-changing goals for the opponent.

“Effort-wise, it’s certainly been there. They haven’t scored as many goals, but they haven’t been scoreless either,” Strycharz said. “They’re just calm and collected when they move the puck.”

Strycharz joked that the second line has been beating his ear lately, telling him that it’s just as good as the first line and should receive the same amount of ice time.

While obviously Strycharz won’t be sitting Talbot or the Cordovas for any longer than they need to get a breather, the second unit has been doing its best to back up its claim.

“They think they’re as good as the first line and they’re out to prove it,” Strycharz said. “Rather than sitting back and complaining that they didn’t get put on the first line, they just go out and work even harder.”

Another reason Woodbridge has been so successful has been the goaltending of Dean Mercer, who logged his first shutout of the season against rival Forest Park and has allowed only 10 goals in 225 minutes of work this season.

Mercer turned aside all 22 Forest Park shots he faced while making 14 of 16 stops against Paul VI and 11 of 12 against Langley. Of course defenseman Luke Guffey deserves some credit, too. He's the fourth player that will be skating atop the Ballston Mall on Saturday.

Oddly enough, Mercer has played better against the NVSHL’s top teams than he has against its less-successful ones, allowing a total of three goals against three opponents who are a combined 13-10 -- and 17-6 without Forest Park’s four forfeits -- and seven goals and the other two, Broad Run and Mountain View, who are a combined 3-9-1.

“Against some teams who aren’t as competitive, we can control the game and he doesn’t see a lot of shots,” said Strycharz, whose team plays Centreville tonight at 9:30. “Then the one shot he does see will be a two-on-one breakaway, and you can kind of get cold and mentally a little lackadaisical.

“But pretty much every team in the NVSHL has a couple players who are solid and who can put the puck in the back of the net.”

By Jason Mackey  |  January 29, 2010; 12:49 PM ET
Categories:  NVSHL , Woodbridge  
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