Indians eliminate Summit, just like last year | SummitDaily.com

Indians eliminate Summit, just like last year

DEVON O'NEIL
summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado
Summit Daily/Mark Fox
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BRECKENRIDGE ” Every Superman has a kryptonite. For the Summit High School hockey team, the glowing green metal arrives in the form of the Cheyenne Mountain Indians, the most successful hockey team in Colorado history.

The 12th-seeded Tigers lost to No. 4 Cheyenne 4-1 at the Stephen C. West Ice Arena on Monday, ending their season in the state quarterfinals ” one round earlier than last year, when the undefeated and top-ranked Indians defeated 13th-seeded Summit in the Frozen Four by the same 4-1 margin.

Aside from SHS senior T.J. Fisker’s first-period breakaway goal, Monday’s matchup was all Cheyenne Mountain. The Indians, led by reigning state player of the year Alex Lofthus, looked just a little quicker, just a little more skilled and, yes, just a little more experienced.

They should: This victory put them in the Frozen Four for the 32nd consecutive year, during which time they’ve won 14 state championships.

Saying there was no team he would rather have elminate his squad, Tigers coach Bryan Smith nonetheless believed his team would’ve had a more favorable shot on a different day.

“I don’t know if they’re a better team, but they played better than we did,” said Smith, whose group finishes the year at 9-12. “We didn’t have our ‘A’ game out there today.”

He added of Cheyenne Mountain, which improved to 16-3, “They have the background, they have the history of being that Final Four team for 32 years in a row. You know, that was kind of something we looked at as motivation ” ‘we have to go in and make this the last one.’ But they’re a good hockey team. They’re very well coached.”

Summit fell behind midway through the first period when an Indians shot rebounded off junior goalie Nick Springer then bounced into the net off the stick of an SHS defenseman. A minute and a half later, Lofthus, one of the most electrifying scorers in the state, buried a power-play shot for the first of his two goals. He later added a shorthanded tally, as well as an assist on the Indians’ final goal, late in the second period.

Fisker halved Cheyenne’s lead at 2-1 with his unassisted tally late in the first period, but that was all Summit would muster, despite the Tigers outshooting their visitors for most of the game. (Summit also outshot Cheyenne in last year’s state semifinal.)

Playing one day after upsetting No. 5 Regis 5-3, also at home, the Tigers appeared a bit sluggish at times on Monday, especially on the power play. Summit squandered three 5-on-3 opportunities in the second period alone.

“They definitely had two days of rest and we had one, but I was kind of hoping that the momentum and motivation and just everything that we had yesterday would help us today,” Smith said. “Because this team gets on a roll, and when they get on a roll that’s what wins hockey games.”

SHS captain Jimmy Keeling, who comprises half of the Tigers’ senior class, along with Fisker, said he and his teammates suffered from nerves early in the game, but once they adjusted they were OK. He couldn’t pinpoint what makes Cheyenne immune to the magic Summit has displayed against every other playoff opponent the past two seasons.

Neither could Fisker.

“We just, for some reason, can’t stick with ’em,” Fisker said. “We try our hardest, and get off as many shots as we can, but they got one of the best goalies in the league.”

Smith said he wished to thank the community for all the support his team received this year, while Keeling reflected on a career that is now in the past.

“You can’t be disappointed about it, but it is kind of sad to know that I’m not gonna be coming back here in this same locker room with these same kids,” the senior said. “But that’s just part of the season, it’s inevitable.”

Devon O’Neil can be contacted at doneil@summitdaily.com, or (970) 668-4633.


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