At one goal down with 10 minutes left in the game, the Summit hockey team gave away four goals, allowing the clock to wind down to an 8-3 loss to Dakota Ridge Saturday.
"Once one wheel came off, all the wheels immediately followed," head coach Chris Ruhly said. "It's a disappointing way to go into the final stretch run."
Now, to make the playoffs, the team must go five-for-five to finish out the season.
Ruhly was particularly upset with the outcome because the team could have jumped to a seventh-place ranking in the Foothills division with a win. Instead, the loss bumped them down a notch into 13th place.
"We were right there with that team. The team had the exact same record as us, had beaten the exact same teams as us," Ruhly said, adding that with it being the end of the season, it wasn't "just another game."
Travis Potts, Peter Grotemeyer and Jack Nevicosi all scored for Summit, and that kept the game close heading into the third period. But halfway through the third, something happened and the team couldn't keep Dakota Ridge from taking off with the puck. Interestingly, the two teams had a similar number of shots on goal, with Summit out shooting Dakota Ridge, 30-28.
"We had a scouting report on them. The report was dead on. Somehow, some reason, we couldn't respond to them," Ruhly said, adding that Dakota Ridge never let up when they were down 2-1 in the first period.
On Friday, the team takes on Cherry Creek at home in Breckenridge. The team is new to the conference and is comprised of players from the region, not just a particular high school.
"I feel like a broken record," Ruhly said, explaining again that he needs the team to show up for 51 minutes, to minimize mistakes and take care of business.
"We have to take care of our business. Problem is, we haven't been taking care of our business to this point," he said.
In Saturday's wrestling invitational, Summit took home top finishes in most of its weight classes.
Carlos Lopez took second in the 106-pound weight class, Brayan Daniel and Nick Wittrock were first in the 113 and 120-pound classes, respectively, and Alex Valetta was fourth in the 126 range. Alan Roque took third in the 132 class. Meanwhile, Tyler Blackford was a bit off in his wrestling and missed a top finish.
"He should have beaten both (guys)," head coach Pete Baker said. "He was just having an off day. It happens."
The team was wrestling mostly 2A and 3A schools with a few 4A teams mixed in - a lesser pool of competition compared to Thursday's tri-meet against Delta and Palisade.
"We had a tough meet Thursday. We got it handed to use. Everyone wrestled really good Saturday after a rough performance Thursday," Baker said, adding that the overall performance Saturday was just shy of what he'd hoped for - but only just. "I was hoping to place as a team, but we didn't. We came up short. We were a point away from coming in third. Tyler didn't wrestle well or we would have."
It also helped that Baker, a coach who doesn't typically get mad at his wrestlers, got mad. Upset his team didn't show up for Thursday's meet and beat wrestlers they could have beaten, he whipped them into shape on Friday.
"Palisade and Delta will be there for the regional meet. We have to beat those kids to get to state. It was a good eye opener to see where we're at," Baker said of the Thursday contest. "They're close. Brayan did really well - he only lost by a couple points to a 12-ranked kid in the state. Was sick the week before and didn't practice that week. He ran out of gas. He didn't have any cardio from being sick."
Meanwhile, Wittrock beat a Delta wrestler and then was winning against his Palisade opponent 12-3 but got pinned in the final 30 seconds of the final period.
Blackford went 1-1 on Thursday, pinning his Delta opponent and losing 14-7 to the one from Palisade.
Next up is a dual with Eagle Valley at home on Feb. 7. Until then, Baker's team will face a lot of tough practices.
"We're counting down, 16 days until regionals," Baker said. "Everything is gearing up to send those kids to state."
The coach is hopeful his team can come away with a win against Eagle Valley, but it will take wins in every lower weight class due to the forfeits that will have to happen against Eagle Valley's heavier classes.