Blogs and Commentary

posted 04.06.2012 at 2.08 p.m. by Corey McLaughlin

Maryland Freshman Raffa Spelling Injured Holmes on Faceoffs

It would have been hard to imagine before the season that Maryland would be looking to another faceoff taker besides Curtis Holmes in April. Holmes developed a well-earned reputation as one of the nation's best on the draw, finishing last season ranked seventh in win perctange nationally.

But Holmes, a junior, has been dealing with unspecified injuries that have made the coaching staff turn to freshman Charlie Raffa to spell Holmes at times, and sometimes for extended periods of time, like in Maryland's game against Virginia last Saturday.

Raffa, a member of the U.S. U19 team, went 5-for-15 on faceoffs while Holmes was 5-for-8, each against a combination of Virginia's Ryan Benincasa and Mick Parks.

"We were just going to go with the hot hand," Maryland head coach John Tillman said after the game. "We wanted to get Charlie in there early instead of waiting, waiting, waiting and then after three periods, throwing him in. We wanted to get him warm. I thought he did a pretty nice job. You can still see, after he won the faceoff, there are still some things that happen quickly, whether it's moving it to the right guy or taking a shot, those types of things. That type of experience will really help him going forward.

"If Charlie got tired or it felt like they went to a different guy we were going to go back to Curtis. We like the fact that we're getting more and more confidence in Charlie. I think he's getting more confidence in himself. He's getting more experience. That will serve us well down the road."

Holmes finished last season with a 62.6 win percentage as a key part of the Terrapins charge to the national title game. This season, he is at 50 percent (66-for-132).

"We have to get Curt healthy," Tillman said. "We have to get him some more reps, and hopefully we can work through this thing. If we do, now we have two faceoff guys and we really didn't have that a month ago."