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MORE: Stone Bridge clamps down on Broad Run to win eighth hockey title

Stone Bridge players rejoice as time expires in the Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League championship game.—Times-Mirror/Chuck Moore
Sewn onto the upper right sleeves of the gameday jackets worn by the Stone Bridge High School hockey coaches is a long list of numbers.

The sequence starts with 2002 and ends with 2016, with five other numbers in between. Those numbers represent all the seasons in which the Bulldogs have won the championship of the Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League.

After Stone Bridge's 6-0 clamp-down of neighborhood rival Broad Run inside Arlington's Kettler Capitals Iceplex on March 3, it's time to fire up the sewing machine. They may need the other sleeve.

Behind a smothering defense backed by a scintillating performance in goal, and supported with a relentless and opportunistic offense, the Bulldogs (11-2) captured their third consecutive NVSHL crown and the eighth in the league's 16 years.

It is Stone Bridge's first-ever three-peat.

"Oh my gosh, this feels so great," raved Bulldog goaltender Sam Kukulich, still on the ice in the immediate aftermath. "Just indescribable. Back-to-back-to-back, it just feels amazing. I can't believe it right now."

The junior goalie wowed the Stone Bridge side of the crowd with a 27-save effort, several of the spectacular kind as he kept the No. 1 seed and previously unbeaten Spartans (12-1) off the scoreboard.

"We have the best goalie in the league," Lynch declared. "We just had to hang in there. We went to some quicker shifts, trying to wear them down. But the big thing was finally putting pucks to the net."

It marked the first-ever appearance in the NVSHL championship game for the Spartans, an accomplishment praised by first-year head coach Chris Kohlasch.

"Tonight certainly hurts, but the boys gave 110 percent," Kohlasch said. "But they can look back and see that they went undefeated, beat Stone Bridge and made it to the championship. The future is bright for Broad Run hockey."

Battle of the 'Burn on the road

Pitting the No. 3 seed Bulldogs against fierce Ashburn foe Broad Run, the match-up was a rematch of the teams' regular-season showdown 19 days earlier, which the Spartans took by a 6-4 score.

Stone Bridge played five players short of its full complement in that contest, a handicap it did not endure for the title tilt.

With both sides loudly supported by throngs of jersey-wearing fans in either maroon or blue, the puck hit the ice and the players began to hit each other.

An intense yet rhythm-less first period ensued, a back-checking clinic resulting in little sustained offense and no goals. Stone Bridge's Nick Ryerse and Broad Run's Mitch Rebholz were each hounded by multiple opponents every time he got the puck.

The net was finally dented a little more than two minutes into the second 18-minute period when Tyler Judson stuffed in his own rebound, finally solving Broad Run goalie Kevin Hennessey.

The Spartans tried to respond, putting five shots on Kukulich during a two-minute power play, but the Bulldog netminder held firm.

The Bulldogs earned a power play soon after, and Cameron Myers snuck the puck between Hennessey and the post for a two-goal lead.

So it remained for 16 game-minutes into the third. Stone Bridge killed off another penalty, allowing three shots as Kukulich displayed a confident glove.

Max Carollo raced down the ice wth Bulldog teammate Jacob Ziff on a 2-on-1 break. Carollo dished to Ziff for the short-range shot, which deflected off Hennessey's glove, bounced up into the air and fell across the goal.

As the final period melted away, Stone Bridge began to pepper Hennessey with shots as Zack Hughes, Ryerse and Judson tallied to apply the finishing touch.

The game-ending buzzer brought the Bulldogs faithful to a raucous crescendo, and they were quickly joined by the Stone Bridge players along the dasher board glass, sticks and gloves and helmets littering the ice.

All-star defenseman Jack Turner took the gleaming Capitals Cup trophy first, raising it high before passing off to teammates, who took turns posing for cameras.

Turner and his blue-line mates earned praise from their goalie and their coach both.

"Tremendous. Maybe four best defensemen we've had here," said Lynch about Turner, Anish Deena, Garrett Mulvihill and Patrick McDonald.

Kukulich credited the blanking to the guys in front of him.

"I give this shutout to my D," Kukulich said. "They played so great, I give it all to them."

Earning the program's eighth overall title and third in a row was cause enough for celebration, but getting it over their chief rivals made the victory even sweeter.

"We had to play Broad Run and everybody knows they're our rivals. That obviously had a big part of the emotion of the game. It felt like everybody was really mentally focused for this game. We just showed up and played really, really well."

Stone Bridge 6, Broad Run 0

-Second period
SB: T. Judson (An. Deena, N. Ryerse), 12:44
SB: Myers, 8:12

-Third period
SB: Ziff (Carollo), 10:38
SB: Hughes (N. Ryerse), 8:51
SB: N. Ryerse, 4:18
SB: T. Judson (N. Ryerse), 2:37

SB: Kukulich, 27 saves
BR: Hennessey, 19 saves

All-NVSHL honorees

-Player of the Year:
Nick Ryerse, Stone Bridge

-First-team forwards:
Mitch Rebholz, Broad Run
Reid Leibold, Riverside
Nick Ryerse, Stone Bridge

-First-team defensemen:
Garrett Mulvihill, Stone Bridge
CJ Klein, Woodbridge

-First-team goalie:
Sam Kukulich, Stone Bridge

-Photos by Chuck Moore


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