Landon 2012 Ice Line Scholastic Christmas Tournament December 28-30 Varsity AA Division

By Dan Buckingham

{EDITOR’S NOTE: this tournament has been part of the Bears’ hockey schedule on and off for several years. It is an important opportunity to play against competition other than the DMV teams. More importantly it is a three day period in which the players, coaches and parents are able to bond for the IAC and MAPHL seasons. Thus, DAN BUCKINGHAM’s account of the games and the off ice time is an important report on the 2012-2013 Bear hockey development. Below is his exceptional account of all dimensions of this team experience. THANKS!!!}



From their dens in Virginia, Maryland and the District the 2012-13 Landon Hockey Bears ventured to Landon’s campus to board two compact brown and white battlewagons to migrate once again on a Friday to the Great North, soon to be White as well. The young Bears traveled to West Chester, Pennsylvania nestled amongst the historic rolling hills West of Philadelphia and just twenty minute drives to the South to Brandywine battlefield as well as to Valley Forge to the Northeast.


The Landon Bears Hockey team was not just marching into a battle but on a three day campaign to play an equal amount of hockey games as they had played to date in their fresh season. The focused goal for this newly formed band of Landon brothers and teammates, by Landon coaches Gammill, Farnstrom and Lubin, was team building both in play but equally important too was gaining better knowledge and friendship together and individually as well as a competing unit.


The Bears were invited to play in the 2012 Ice Line Scholastic Christmas Tournament December 28-30 Varsity AA Division. Also participating were three local varsity hockey teams from Conestoga, Penncrest, and West Chester East high schools competing in the Pennsylvania’s Central League AA division. From outside of Poughkeepsie, New York was the John Jay East Fishkill High School varsity team.


The tournament took place at Ice Line, a barn that houses 4 ice rinks. Densely decorated along the various ice rink walls and suspended beneath the aging iron trusses were numerous trophy banners proclaiming victories in assorted tournaments, league, division and state championships. A number of these banners contained the same hockey clubs that the Bears were to play against. Also amongst the Ice Line trophy banners were ones from hosting the National Hockey Championships in 2001 and 2010. Ice Line also is the home rink of the Junior Flyers.


Landon’s Coach Gammill, along with the Landon Hockey program, must be highly regarded because the Landon Bears Hockey team was granted the privilege use of this decked out locker rooms to store their equipment and shower after games throughout the three day tournament. The Bears had definitely arrived to compete in hockey country.


DAY ONE-The Landon battlewagons arrived to deploy the players for their first tournament game to commence at 1:00 PM that afternoon against Conestoga. The full complement of the Landon Hockey Varsity team was minus three players due to scheduling issues and one was sick. Two young Landon Bear cubs had been called up to fill in. These two were Trevor Wolf and Walker Hague. Also suiting up for the first time this season was senior John Wellington, who is healed but not quite cured from his shoulder injury from the 3rd week of November. John was dressed and on the bench with his teammates but withheld from playing to ensure the full mending of shoulder. The players, coaches and parents were delighted to see John’s 6’4” frame in uniform.


Starting out in goal against Conestoga was Orlando Arevalo. The puck was dropped and the play was swift. With some missing personnel the lines were modified with senior and assistant captain Will Buckingham moved back to defense and then the gradual integration of the young cubs onto offensive and defensive lines was made. Conestoga skated well and the Landon Bears began to shake off their bus legs.


The first period expired with a one goal Landon lead from Tom Crittenberger with the primary assist from senior and captain Graham Shue. The second period quickly commenced with more Landon finesse resulting in four more goals by freshman Junmo Kim, Colton Rupp and two from Graham Shue. The primary assists came from Colton Rupp, Satchel Clendenin (for 2) and Junmo Kim. Orlando displayed very solid saves and shot rebound redirections to close out the second period Landon 5-0 and the clock going to running time without stoppage (tournament rule).


Landon’s 5 player defensemen group of Alex Norwinski, Jacob Ruttenberg, Trevor Wolf along with Seniors Jack Sears and Will Buckingham defended well and supported Orlando’s steady play between the pipes until one Conestoga breakaway which resulted in Conestoga’s single game goal. The first game finished with a 5-1 Landon victory. Players and parents left the ice rink to check into the hotel in nearby Frazer, PA. After checking in the coaches took the Bear players to a well recommended eating establishment noted for their hoagies.


Players and parents later returned to Ice Line to face Penncrest for a 7:00 PM face off. A recovering Jack Barton arrived to join in with his teammates and Sam Kroll started in goal. Penncrest had some faster skaters and the game play was livelier but with only 6 reserve players on Penncrest’s bench how long could they play with vigor?


The first period concluded with Jack Barton demonstratively announcing his arrival by skating and dangling coast to coast with an unassisted goal. Landon up 1-0.  The second period got underway with two more additional Landon goals by Jacob Ruttenberg and Alex Norwinski with primary assists from Graham Shue and freshman Michael Soraci.


Sam Kroll displayed his signature strong play in goal with his positioning and making both acrobatic saves and blocks. The third period play ended without any additional goals for either team. Strong defensive play earned not only a shutout but also all three goals were scored by defensemen. Way to go Big D! The Landon Bears deposited 4 out of a possible 4 points into the tournament standings for a successful first day.

Players and parents returned to the hotel with some of the players getting a swim. The parents gathered for a late dinner and game of table and chair addition. Our server Linda was great!


DAY TWO-The snow arrived shortly after daybreak and the coaches loaded up the Landon busses to travel to the renowned The Classic Diner for a late morning breakfast. The snow fell at a good clip blanketing both ground and roadway. The road crews were at the ready and effectively treated the hilly roads and parking lots. Yup, we were definitely in a true hockey tournament up North. Considerations to travel to one of the historic sites were changed because of the weather conditions.


The Landon Bears later learned that their 4:45 PM opponent would be quite challenging after checking the Round Robin tournament results that John Jay EF HS had effectively dispatched West Chester East that morning by a score of 8-0. In addition, the Bears would be less two of previous day’s varsity players who had to travel elsewhere. The clock finally wound down to game time against this New York hockey team.


Without a doubt The John Jay Patriots quickly showed they were top hockey competitors by skill in skating, puck handling and clearing. Very quickly John Jay entered the Landon zone taking ample shots and cycling the puck effectively. The Bears appeared a little sluggish.


And then early in the game an exceptional skating opponent #18 blazed across the ice from one blue line and past the next deking past stretched out Bears where he stealthily ripped the net for an early goal to go up one zip against Landon. Within the very next shift or two assistant captain Will Buckingham, now playing as a forward, returned the favor with a sweetly shot goal  fed by a finesse pass from captain Graham Shue by  knotting the score 1-1. This folks was Landon’s high water mark for that game.


A second goal by John Jay added to their score but also jarred Landon goalie Sam Kroll who clearly was moving with tenderness. The fleet skating Patriots frustrated the Bears as well as increased their goal production. Despite a terrific goal by Campbell Blue the 1st period expired with the John Jay Patriots leading 6-2.


A Bear goalie rotation was made and the Landon coaches effectively advised their players to adjust their game play. The Patriot’s red gloved #18 continued to skate magnificently and displaying really terrific soft hand puck control. Newly arrived defensemen Trevor Wolf really enhanced his defense play with hard body checks. Orlando quickly got into an effective reactive zone by absorbing and deflecting shots. The Bears played with more skill and team work rather than frustrated emotion.  Both sides battled for the puck and its control. The second and third periods expired with the final score 8-5.


While this was an arousing loss, wise solace would note that in the final two full periods Landon had scored 3 goals to John Jay’s 2.  It is also very critical to note that with the exception of Will Buckingham’s two partially played games on Landon’s varsity defense last year; none of the other current defensemen had varsity level experience on defense. For the John Jay game both Will and newly arrived sophomore Jacob Ruttenberg had been moved to play as forwards that afternoon.  Jacob later received a burner in his shoulder and after a visit to ER room he had to retire for the duration of this tournament. The day ended with John Jay in first place followed by Landon in second.


Players and parents returned to the hotel where they quickly freshened up to join in a team dinner of a set menu served family style. Both the food and service were amply enriching in both appetite and relaxation but better yet was the warm fellowship shared by all. The Landon captain’s mothers of Mary Shue and Cary Buckingham did a tremendous job not only in organization and logistics but most importantly with grace and celebrated hospitality off site of their respective homes. A well-nourished company of sons, a band of brothers, along with their caring coaches and their accompanying parents left in both in good cheer and harmony.


DAY THREE-An early 9:00 AM game against the West Chester East awaited the Bears as they traveled once again to their handsome visiting locker room.  Like a loyal soldier separated from his comrades by capture or wounding, but at the very next opportunity, quickly returns to his unit so did Junmo Kim return to rejoin his Landon Bear teammates. With an injured Ruttenberg that morning’s defense was comprised of Jack Sears, Alex Norwinski, Trevor Wolf and Will Buckingham with Orlando Arevalo in goal.


Landon offensively once again was revised by having Junmo return as well as Jack Barton moved up to forward. West Chester East played with pep and also had a very fluid and speedy skater who repeated rushed the Landon goal. These players were also quite chippy and chirpy.  The Bears knew that with a win that morning they would be playing in the 3:00 Final Championship round.


Early in the first period defenseman Will Buckingham won the puck in his zone and then skated down the right side past West Chester players across his blue line, then the red line and across the WC’s blue line, taking advantage of a line change, and charging at the WC goal where with the back of his blade he successfully directed the puck into the uncovered upper right hand corner for the 1-0 lead.


Later Jack Barton went coast to coast for a goal. Strong, effective and steady line play by Landon was maintained shift after rolled out shift. Another goal by Tommy Crittenberger was later followed by Campbell Blue as well as Jones Linder.

Some of the chirpy West Chester players inquired if the Landon players wanted to drop gloves and go to it. The referee crew was inconsistent with whistled fouls to Landon’s detriment. An unfortunate incident early in the second period in which two opposing players unintentionally made contact with another’s knees. The result was a down WC player and one of Landon’s defenseman receiving a game misconduct. Ouch, both ways! Barton went back on D and Landon’s 4th game concluded with a Landon 5-3 victory thanks to Orlando’s great goalie play. The Bears now earned a rematch with the undefeated John Jay Patriots who in their 4 games amassed 32 GF and 8 GA including two shutouts for the tournament.


After a trip back to the hotel to check out and the coaches to take the players out for a nourishing hoagie feast the temporarily transplanted Landon community of Bear players, coaches and family members returned to Ice Line for the 3:00 final.


Some changes were made on defense; especially noteworthy was the loss of Alex Norwinski from the blue liners. Alex is a very steady and accomplished blue liner, his loss of play was big. Sam Kroll returned for key playing goalie duty while Landon’s defenseman were comprised of two lines with Barton and Wolf on one line and seniors Sears and Buckingham on the other.


Again please note that the total games played as varsity defensemen amongst these 4 totaled on an aggregate basis to just less than one game prior to this year. The puck was dropped and the championship game commenced with strong fluid play this time by both opposing teams. Jack Barton scored the first goal with forward Jones Linder adding a second Landon goal with the first period expiring with a Landon 2-0 lead.


THE guy, their player #18 with his red gloves was back and being double shifted. The word was that Harvard had made him an offer to play, but that he chose Holy Cross instead. Without any doubt #18 was a player with a definite future for competitive hockey at the perhaps the highest levels. In the past 10 years of youth hockey that this author has witnessed, no one compares with the accomplished skill level of this young man. He is truly a game changer. With Landon’s 2-0 lead both the John Jay players and their parents seem to tightened up. Then #18 broke through and scored a goal; followed by several others that period with the second period concluding with the score-  John Jay Patriots 4 and Landon 2.


The 3rd period was played by both sides at a frenzied pace and GREAT high school hockey. Then Campbell Blue chipped in a goal to revise the score 4-3 John Jay’s advantage. Sam Kroll put forth a tremendous effort and with the clock winding down to less than 80 seconds Sam was pulled by the coaches and another forward added to seek out the Landon equalizer.


The Patriots responded with staunch play and launched a shot at Landon’s goal from their end that just went wide. When the Patriots fought and attained puck control another shot went forth towards the Landon goal. This time the puck successfully went between the pipes for a 5-3 score to the Patriot’s favor.


The Landon coaches quickly beckoned onto the collapsed and frustrated Bear players to rise and return to form for the faceoff with some 20 seconds remaining. The players responded but alas the difference that day, that time was not recoverable. Championship victory to the John Jay Patriots with the 4 goals by #18 plus one from a different teammate with the game recorded as a 5-3 win.


CONCLUSION-The record will state that the award ceremony quickly followed with the 2012-13 Landon Bears as runner ups and the John Jay EF HS Patriots as the 2012 Ice Line Scholastic Christmas Tournament Varsity AA Champions.


Noteworthy from Coach Gammill was that all of the game referee and head tournament officials commended the Landon Hockey players for their high level of play both in skills, tactics and especially in clean sportsmanship void of chirping, carping, cheap play and egregious fouls on a most uncommon basis. Many stated that it would be an honor to referee Landon’s next game wherever.

At the awards ceremonies the Landon players shook the hands of the presenters but also spontaneously went across to the other blue line with the John Jay players they had just battled fiercely with twice in 24 hours to look them each in the eye and shake their hand respectfully. The mission objective for team building was successfully processed and achieved.


The Landon Bears engaged fiercely with competitive opponents and came within one goal, plus an empty netter goal, of winning first place. Sports parallels life and with the strong and time tested experience of Landon coaches Gammill, Farnstrom and Lubin this author, parent and Landon alum is positive that the fruit of this arduous planting will bear forth a bountiful and meaningful harvest later this season, and perhaps a lifetime to come. Thus, taking the John Jay EK HS Patriots, along with red gloved #18, from a stumbling block to a stepping stone for another IAC Hockey championship and perhaps another MAPHL state championship. After all don’t we all want such positive life lessons for our sons to properly mature with?


GO BEARS + Landon Forever,

Dan Buckingham ‘75


Published in: on January 2, 2013 at 9:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

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