McLean Ice Hockey claims victory in thrilling match against Westfield/Chantilly

Highlanders make adrenalizing comeback amid a near draw with the Bulldogs and Chargers

The Highlanders prepare to battle for the puck.

On February 17th, McLean Varsity Ice Hockey went head to head with the combined team of the Westfield Bulldogs and Chantilly Chargers, the nail-biting match marking the last of their 2022-2023 season.

The game got off to an earnest start with both sides keeping their defense strong and working to hold each other off. Despite many efforts by the Bulldogs and Chargers, the Highlanders kept redirecting all of the shots aimed at their goal.

A little over five minutes into the opening period, McLean opened the scoring with a goal, which was directly followed up by another goal made by senior winger Gavin Short. It was clear that McLean’s energy and confidence was elevated by the change in the scoreboard as they began to start playing a more aggressive offense.

This strategy seemed to pay off as before one could blink, a third and fourth goal were scored, the latter executed by junior James Bailey.

As excitement and vigor filled the McLean side of the stadium with an additional goal, bringing the score to 5-0, many of the McLean players began to claim that they’d have to take mercy on Westfield/Chantilly. The blowout seemed to be a sharp contrast to the prior punishing competition against Langley.

As the second period began to start, an unexpected crowd of Bulldog and Charger fans overtook the student section of the rink. Clearly sour when seeing their team’s scores, they became increasingly rowdy, booing and chanting insults in hopes of derailing the focus of the Highlanders.

As concern for the Westfield/Chantilly team increased, the game on the ice got progressively more tense, collisions escalating as the Bulldogs and Chargers tried to make up for their lacking first period. Westfield/Chantilly’s determination finally paid off with them scoring their first goal with four minutes left in the second period.

While an eruption of cheers from the Bulldog and Charger’s student section echoes around the arena, Coach Zubarev commands his team to not “take [Westfield/Chantilly] lightly”, having felt that McLean’s defense was slacking off as they believed that they had reached a position of comfort and dominance.

Right before the buzzer indicated the end of the second period, Westfield/Chantilly swept in with another clean shot, upping the score to 5-2.

As McLean’s defense began to wear off, the team decided to call for a time out to regroup and discuss a game plan. It seems that their earlier remarks regarding mercy for Westfield/Chantilly have vanished as they fight to stay in the lead.

“We played really well at first, scored five goals and started off really fast and dominant,” junior Soup DuCharme said. “But we definitely let off a little bit and I think that contributed to us letting them come back.”

With three more Bulldog and Charger goals made, the score became dangerously balanced at 5-5, making what appeared to be an easy win a nail-biting game. It was clear that the unruly crowd of supporters were sucking up McLean’s energy and making their way into their heads as their impenetrable lead in the first two periods had fallen apart.

As the stakes and pace increased, McLean junior goalkeeper Daniel Dille saved many attempted shots, keeping the hope for a McLean closing victory alive.

With five minutes left in the third period, Richard Li picked up the pieces and spirit, securing a clear point for McLean on the scoreboard.

Less than a minute later, Li soared in again, making McLean’s seventh clean goal and nearly assuring victory and a fierce finish to the season.

As the last minute ticked off on the clock, the Westfield/Chantilly players desperately raced against time but it didn’t seem to be enough.

As the buzzer calls the match to a close, the score stands at 7-5, highlighting the Highlanders’ perseverance and ability to perform under pressure.

“After the game, we had a little bit of a talking-to just because of how we clearly let off the gas midway through the game,” junior James Bailey said. “But you know, Coach didn’t go too hard on us. We ended up winning the game so there was a little bit of celebration and we had some players that played really good tonight, so we celebrated them for sure.”