Breck Vipers semi-pro hockey shuffling lines and finding chemistry halfway through season | SummitDaily.com

Breck Vipers semi-pro hockey shuffling lines and finding chemistry halfway through season

The next time you're at a Breckenridge Vipers home game, just wait for the chanting to start. It won't take long.

"Thir-ty se-ven! Co-lin Trev-lyn!" they'll chant from the teensy-tiny stands at Stephen C. West Ice Arena in Breck, and it even kind of rhymes, so that's pretty good for hockey fans. "Thir-ty se-ven! Co-lin Trev-lyn!"

Then, with any luck, Vipers forward Colin Trevlyn will be where he's been most of the season — between the opposing defenders and their goalie — and sneak one into the back of the net. Chances are it'll start all over again: "Thir-ty se-ven! Co-lin Trev-lyn!"

"This season, I've just found myself in front of the net a lot, being in the right place at the right time," said Trevlyn, a Pennsylvania native who played junior college for a few years back home before moving to Breckenridge in 2012. The Keystone property manager is now part of a high-scoring Vipers semi-pro team (8-4 overall) that started slow in November and early December, and has since put together a string of blowout wins: 22-0 against the Utah Spiders on Dec. 17, 8-4 against the Vail Yeti on Jan. 7, 15-3 against the Arizona Outlaws on Jan. 14.

When the Vipers host the Pikes Peak Vigilantes tonight (see sidebar), Trevlyn and team will be riding a four-game win streak. Funny how that lopsided win against the Vail Yeti — Breck's natural, sworn enemies, and winner of the season series so far at three games to two — was a turning point for No. 37. His team had been losing to their rivals all season, including the home opener, and getting a big win in Breck against this year's tough Yeti team just felt damn good.

"It really seemed like we all came together as a team," Trevlyn said of the Jan. 7 victory. "We had an away game against them and lost, and then we came back and it was just a great game all around. After that, things have been going good … That Vail game was the turning point."

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Another title?

An 8-4 record with several blowout wins is nothing to balk at, but it's still not quite the same Vipers team that took the Mountain West Hockey League by storm last season.

In late 2015, owner and starting center Rick Batenberg quietly launched a semi-pro team with players from Summit County, Denver and across the Front Range, including guys who split time with the Colorado Eagles — now a feeder team for the Colorado Avalanche system. That Vipers team rode a wave of hidden talent to a surprise Rocky Mountain Division title and an appearance at the MWHL Finals during its first season ever. Not bad.

The Vipers are slightly different this season — some star players are back, like Batenburg, who lead the league in scoring for 2016 with another Vipers player, Tyler Cavan — but then again, so is the league. The Yeti are rejuvenated by a new manager and former JuCo players, while even a doormat like Pikes Peak managed to win one against Breck this year.

"With us and Pikes Peak coming into the league, Vail stepped up and started recruiting some really good guys, like former pros from Europe," Batenburg said. "I hate to sound biased, but I think when we joined, the skill level rose a little bit."

Batenburg admits his team was flat in November. Ask him for the turning point though, and he won't point to the January Yeti win, but a Dec. 10 game against the Boulder Bison, when a blizzard was pounding Breck, Dew Tour was in town and the stands were nearly bare. There wasn't much chanting that night, but the team's four lines managed a come-from-behind victory after going down 0-3 in the first period.

"No one got to see this hard-fought, great game, but in between the first and second period we realized no one is going to roll over for us," Batenburg said. "We have to compete for every shift, for every puck, and if you don't want to be battling, get the f*** off my ice. It was that moment everyone said, 'We're buying in.'"

After that, the Vipers fiddled with lines and separated Cavan and Batenburg, who just weren't clicking this season. Now, Cavan's line is scoring "all over the place," the owner said, and the rest of the lines are doing the same.

"It all comes back to chemistry," Trevlyn said. "I think we play well as a team. We have a few guys who really stand out, but our depth is what will help us … It's rare to find a team with four good lines, and because of that it's hard for other teams to keep up with us."

Vipers home schedule

All home games are played at Stephen C. West Ice Arena in Breckenridge.

Feb. 11 — vs. Pikes Peak Vigilantes, 7:45 p.m.

Feb. 25 — vs. Boulder Bison, 8 p.m.

March 4 — vs. Vail Yeti, 9:15 p.m.

March 18 — vs. Pikes Peak Vigilantes, 8:45 p.m.

April 14 — Game One, post-season (location TBA)

April 15 — Game Two, post-season (location TBA)

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Breck Vipers vs. Pikes Peak Vigilantes

What: A home game against conference foes Pikes Peak of Colorado Springs

When: Saturday, Feb. 11, at 8:30 p.m.

Where: Stephen C. West Ice Arena, 189 Boreas Pass Road in Breckenridge

Cost: $10-$25

General admission is $10. General plus a beer garden pass (unlimited beer during the game) is $25. For more info about the vipers, including a complete schedule and record, see BreckVipers.com.