Unlike most sports in FCPS, high school ice hockey is not an official high school sport but a club sport, and many times, schools have had to combine players to form teams.
That’s not the case with James Madison High School, at least not this year. For the first time in a while, the school has enough players on its roster to field both a varsity and junior varsity team. So far, things have been going smoothly.
In their season opener against Chantilly/Westfields, the Warhawks recorded their first victory of the season by a score of 5-3. Head Coach Jon Alford said the growth of this team has been astounding, and the chemistry they showed in the season opener has been beneficial.
“We have seen a big growth in participation this year with ten seniors returning and nine skilled freshmen joining the club, which gives us 36 players to help field a pure varsity and pure JV team,” Alford said. “The high tempo that we played with in the first game of the season was good to see, but we also need to tighten up the discipline defensively.”
Playing at the Ashburn Ice House, it was a combination of seniors that took command early against the opposition and never looked back, maintaining the lead through all three periods with 32 shots on goal.
Senior forward Jacob Alford notched two goals and three assists, along with Senior forward JT Gary scoring two goals and Junior forward Jeremy Correa getting a goal. Sophomore defender Jack Spiess also picked up an assist.
“These guys have been playing together for such a long time since they were kids,” Alford said. “They are very familiar with each other, and they enjoy playing with each other, and that’s what we look for when they are out there on the ice.”
The star of the game would have to be junior goalie Jake Helfant, who blocked 26 of 29 shots, nearly 90 percent. Alford said he has been playing great and fundamentally sound.
“Jake deals with a lot of pressure during the game, and he stays calm, which really helps our guys out knowing they have someone reliable behind them,” Alford said.
Now in his third season as head coach, Alford is proud of the progress the kids have made and seeing the number of players showing interest in this sport and wanting to represent Madison.
“We’re fortunate to have a great group of parents, students, and alumni volunteers who make our club possible,” Alford said.
Madison’s next game against Broad Run is on Nov. 18, at the Reston Skatequest. Faceoff is at 7:55 pm Alford has not seen the Spartans this year but has high praise for the club.
“We’re looking forward to it, they are a good club, and we are excited about our prospect and ability to compete this year,” Alford said. “Ultimately, we want to create the high school experience for the kids where they can play with their friends and represent their school.”