Summit High hockey coach Chris Ruhly told his players they had the choice of winning or losing Wednesday night's home game against Ralston Valley.
Play with momentum and drive and potentially pull a win from the team that's undefeated in conference. Play without, and likely face a loss.
Wednesday's game ended in a 7-3 loss for the Tigers, who Ruhly said played an "average" game. It wasn't great, it wasn't bad - just average. But not enough to take down such an esteemed team.
"I take nothing away from Ralston Valley," Ruhly said. "They are undefeated in the conference for a reason. ... They're a solid team. The problem is, every time we scored last night, they scored 40 seconds later. The response was we didn't maintain the momentum after we gained it."
Senior captain Sean Farley scored two of the team's goals, one unassisted and the other short-handed but with help from Peter Grotemeyer. Jack Nevicosi scored on a power play early in the second period.
But Summit, which is now sitting at 3-10 overall, couldn't fend off Charles Joly, who scored three for Ralston Valley, and a handful of others who tallied the rest of the team's goals.
"We're on the cusp of making the turn, it's just every team has capitalized on our mistakes and we need to minimize our mistakes. For some reason, this year, every team has gotten that one lucky bounce, and we haven't gotten one this year. .. It's been a little discouraging," Ruhly said.
What Wednesday night's loss means is the team has a series of must-win games ahead if they're going to proceed to the postseason.
"Not only are they must-win, they are also winnable games as far as standings go," Ruhly said. "We've played all the tough teams. Now, everyone is fighting for a playoff spot, including us. The talking and the teaching is done. Now, it's putting together a game plan and playing the game."
It's also not looking at the standings and playing a less fierce game simply because the team at hand isn't playing as well as past opponents.
The next game is on the road at 6:15 p.m. Saturday against Dakota Ridge.
"I expect to win. It is a must-win. There's no other way about that," Ruhly said.