Breckenridge Bolts youth hockey program forced to go ‘dormant’ as Rocky Mountain league folds
After two previous incarnations of Breckenridge-based Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League teams died out, the Breckenridge Bolts have been forced to take a leave of absence as well.
That said, the program’s general manager is adamant he hopes the Bolts will return in the future.
Bolts general manager Wren Arbuthnot announced the news to the Breckenridge Town Council at Tuesday evening’s meeting, citing the folding of the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League (RMJHL) as the reason.
Arbuthnot added that the league is folding due to “unforseen circumstances” with several of the leaugue’s teams from down on the Front Range.
“This is not through the mismanagement of the Bolts organization,” Arbuthnot said. “In fact, we are choosing to enter into a state of dormancy with the intention of bringing a team back in the future.
“It’s unfortunate,” he continued, “but there is no way we could continue moving because there is no league to play in.”
The Bolts’ effective sabbatical for the 2018-19 season — and possibly longer — comes after the team, the town of Breckenridge and Stephen C. West Ice Arena hosted the league’s inaugural all-star game in January.
The Bolts program was also very optimistic about its future entering into this season due to its new hand-in-hand partnership with Summit Youth Hockey. The community-entrenched, pre-existing club fed several of its youth players into the new Bolts program, though it didn’t provide any funding.
The Bolts’ “state of dormancy,” as Arbuthnot put it, is different from the Bears and Bucks as both of those programs folded due to undisclosed reasons of their own while the league continued on with subsequent seasons.
This past season, the league — which began play in 2015-16 — consisted of five teams: the Bolts, the Colorado Rampage of Monument, the Colorado Thunderbirds of Littleton, the Pikes Peak Miners of Colorado Springs and the Steamboat Wranglers.
In the league’s history, along with the Breckenridge Bears and Bucks, other franchises included the Aspen Leafs, the Glacier Yetis of Grand Junction, and the Vail Powder Hounds.
The league was a pay-for-play USA Hockey-sanctioned U-20 Tier III league for amateur youth players between the ages of 16 and 20. Though the Bolts brought in some players from as far away as Minnesota and Michigan, the team also consisted of several locals, including Summit High School students. The elite youth players all had their sights set on collegiate and, in some cases, professional careers.
In the inaugural 2015-16 season, the Aspen Leafs won the league championship before the Pikes Peak Miners and the Steamboat Wranglers captured the league titles in 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 respectively.
Breckenridge: A destination for goalies?
In more positive news, Arbuthnot shared with the town council that a first-ever late-May Breckenridge retreat for international hockey goaltenders was a success.
The inaugural Global Goaltending Retreat, put on by The Goalie Guild out of Castle Rock, took place from May 25-27 at Stephen C. West Ice Arena. Arbuthnot said 32 coaches from 16 different countries descended on Breckenridge for the event, as did goalie-specific trainers and sports performance experts.
Arbuthnot relayed to the council that Goldman and the Goalie Guild have their sights set on growing the event, as some participants are already booking their lodging for the week before Memorial Day 2019.
“It’s kind of a novelty item,” Arbuthnot said. “It falls in the offseason, and I’d love to see if there are ways the town can help continue to promote it year after year because they want to keep coming back. And we are hoping that this thing absolutely explodes.”
— Eli Pace contributed reporting
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