Shorthanded Summit High School hockey fights but falls in first round playoff game vs. Castle View |

Shorthanded Summit High School hockey fights but falls in first round playoff game vs. Castle View

Coaches proud of senior group that changed team culture

Summit High's Ranger Stone and Castle View's Payton Poole vie for the puck Tuesday, Feb. 25, at the Stephen C. West Ice Arena in Breckenridge. The Tigers fell to the Sabercats 5-2.
Liz Copan /

BRECKENRIDGE — The Summit High School varsity hockey team was up against it Tuesday night at Stephen C. West Ice Arena. Missing several players due to disciplinary action from school, the Tigers weren’t really able to go three lines deep in their first-round home playoff game versus the Castle View Sabercats.

Certain players, like defensemen Nick Davis and Zach Carleton, played twice as many minutes as they normally would, scratching and clawing to help the 2019-20 team live to see another day. Despite their best efforts, including a fast and furious third period, the Tigers fell to the Sabercats 5-2. With the loss, Summit’s Peak Conference championship season ended in the first round of the 24-team state playoff. But it wasn’t without a fight.

“That goalie, he probably had the best game statistically that he has played this season, for sure,” Tigers head coach Joey Otsuka said about Sabercats goaltender Parker Fromin, who stopped more than 30 shots. “But on the other side, too, we were just talking to the players in (the locker room): We’ve been coaching for a long time. It was the best third period performance from any team I’ve ever coached ever. To put up 20 shots in the third period, it’d be like running from here to Vail holding 100 pounds in front of you, not on your back.”

Though Summit outshot Castle View, Fromin’s standout effort and the Tigers’ lack of skaters made a victory hard to come by. That said, the game started off positively for Summit as defender Zach Carleton scored to give Summit a lead in the first period. After Castle View took a lead later in the period, the Tigers responded with a goal from Davis Emery to knot it up at 2-2 heading into the second period.

LIVE: The Summit High School varsity hockey team leads 1-0 after a Zach Carleton goal in the first period of a first round state tournament game versus Castle View…

Posted by Summit Daily News on Tuesday, February 25, 2020

“Zach is really, he’s key to our defense because he makes great defensive plays,” Otsuka said. “His intuition is awesome. He has the ability when things get hairy behind the net, he slows time down and finds the seam to throw a pass or skating out, it allows everyone else on the team to play their position more focused on their role than the defense bringing the puck out. And the same with Nick Davis. He’s a senior. He was put in an impossible position and performed.”

In the second period, Castle View made the most of its opportunities, scoring twice to take a 4-2 lead into the third period. In the final period, despite Summit’s scrappy play, the Sabercats converted a wild, one-time, back-hand transition goal past Tigers senior goaltender Jake Mallory to seal the game.

LIVE: Summit High varsity hockey tied 2-2 entering the second period of state playoff first round matchup versus Castle View…

Posted by Summit Daily News on Tuesday, February 25, 2020

After the game, Otsuka and the Tigers coaching staff made it a point to tell the players they had nothing to be ashamed of. The coach said no one in the arena Tuesday had any inkling that there was anything left for this squad to give. They put it all out there. The score just didn’t go their way.

“The percentages drop as soon as you miss a third line,” Otsuka said. “But there was no shying away. The players that played, they took on the burden and executed what they needed to do and threw the kitchen sink at the goalie.”

LIVE: Summit High varsity hockey team fights to keep season alive, trail 4-2 entering third period of first round state tournament game versus Castle View…

Posted by Summit Daily News on Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The coach then put this season’s journey in perspective.

“We made an incredible impact in our conference, and I think throughout Colorado high school hockey,” Otsuka said. “Hey, Summit’s no longer a rollover team, ragtag bunch of people that enjoy hockey. We are serious about it here. … The seniors and the upperclassmen, back in August is when we started training for this, and they set the tone, knew what was on the line, and they lit the torch, and now we are here. So we’ve got to set this precedent. They know the amount of work that is necessary to be successful. There’s no more secrets. This is what it takes.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.

Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.