When it came time to choose his senior International Baccalaureate® project, Urbana High School multi-sport athlete Andrew Landry knew exactly what he wanted to do: Give back to the Hawks ice hockey program that’s been such a huge part of his high school experience. Since ice hockey is not a Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association-sanctioned sport, school teams are funded only by athletes and their families.
So, Landry joined forces with classmate and Hawks goalkeeper Brody Channell, and the two set out to organize a fundraiser—“Helmets for Hawks”—to help them purchase new custom helmets for Urbana ice hockey.
With the support of Skate Frederick, a few local restaurants, including Manhattan Pizza and Roy Rogers, and the launch of a GoFundMe page, Landry and Channell raised more than $3,000 in the months leading up to the 2019-20 season. In addition to supplying their teammates with newly designed gear, Landry and Channell were able to donate $500 to the USA Warriors Ice Hockey sled team.
USA Warriors Ice Hockey is a nonprofit organization that provides recreational, therapeutic and educational experiences through ice hockey for those wounded while serving in the United States Military.
“Coach Toby (Heusser) has taught us not only how to be better players but to be better people, both on and off the ice,” Landry said. “His guidance inspired us to give back to our team and our community. … (The USA Warriors) sacrificed their lives for our country, some of them are dealing with paralysis, so we can sacrifice our time to help give them a chance to do something they love.”
Urbana’s new custom-designed helmets, which are navy, gray and white and feature big hawk wings on either side, don’t just look good. They’ve raised awareness for the sport and the program, and they have been a source of pride for the team, Landry said. So as the Urbana team (7-2-1) enters championship season, beginning with the Maryland Student Hockey League Monocacy Valley Conference tournament scheduled for Feb. 10-13, the Hawks not only look good, but feel good. And that is sure to translate onto the ice, Landry said.
Three of the four teams that qualified for the conference championship will earn a spot in the 16-team state tournament.
Urbana has not missed the season-ending competition in at least a decade but will look to improve on last year’s disappointing first-round exit. And, if the Hawks abide by one of their mottos—hard work beats talent when talent is not working hard—they should have a good chance to make a deep run this postseason.
“If you have players who are working hard and are working together and want to do well, that leads to playoff wins,” Heusser said. “Every player has their own role and if everyone can focus on their job, and accomplish that, you can win hockey games. If they’re not, it could be the weak link that leads to a loss.”
Heusser added that goaltending—which includes strong defense—can be the difference in a hockey game. Led by sophomore goalie Joseph Zibragos (87.9 percent save percentage), Channell (89.1 percent) and senior defender Tony Shi, Urbana has allowed an average of three goals per game. Meanwhile, the Hawks’ offense, led by leading scorer Corey Heflin (12 goals, 14 assists), Chris Rerko (11,10), Tommy Coffey (nine, eight) and Landry (six, seven), has notched an average of nearly five goals per game.
“For us, I think it all starts with mental preparedness,” Landry said. “When everyone contributes, and we play both sides of the rink, we can (beat anyone).”