Shorthanded Tigers pull out another upset
BRECKENRIDGE – The similarities remain too obvious to miss: same balanced scoring, same fiery attitude, same come-from-behind will, same postseason result. Perhaps the only aspect of the Summit High School hockey team that has changed since last season is the way the team handles its penalty kills, and nothing had more to do with the Tigers’ latest playoff upset than that.Tied at 2 in the third period of their heated, twice-postponed matchup with No. 5 seed Regis Jesuit on Sunday, Summit’s penalty-killing units ditched their old dump-it-in approach and took the offensive. The aggressive play led to a pair of shorthanded goals that keyed the 12th-seeded Tigers’ 5-3 upset over the Raiders at the Stephen C. West Ice Arena, and brought Summit (9-11) within one victory of a second consecutive surprise berth in the Frozen Four.Tommy Moles got the shorthanded attack going about three minutes into the third period when he skated the puck up ice, then dished to a streaking Braxton Campbell who buried the rubber top-shelf to give Summit its first lead of the game.
The 3-2 lead stood up for most of the period until speedy sophomore Alex Gutierrez completed a solo rush off a pass from Jan McSparin, and buried the Tigers’ second straight shorthanded goal. Regis (14-5) immediately countered with a goal of its own six seconds later, but Summit sealed it with an empty-netter from Scott Noble with 13 seconds to play.After the game, which featured 22 penalties and enough big hits to make a movie, SHS coach Bryan Smith explained the new strategy he installed this season.”Last year we had more of a passive, reading forecheck on the penalty kill,” said Smith, who has led the Tigers to the only three playoff victories in school history. “And we’ve seen this year, we have the horses, we have the legs and lungs, so we send ’em now. In penalty kill situations we go.””Seems to be working, just flustering ’em,” said Noble, the junior co-captain. “They can’t set up the power play.”The victory brought to an end two days of controversial delays, after the first-round game was postponed first due to weather and then due to traffic hazards, which prevented Regis from traveling to the game on Saturday. Smith said he expected his team to “beat these guys up bad” after the game was called off Saturday, expressing his frustration with Regis for delaying the contest.
As a result, he said he’d never been more nervous before a game than he was on Sunday, having put plenty of pressure on his players to come through with a win.”Some of it was probably a little cocky, but nonetheless this feels so good,” the coach said.”You could tell from the first shift it was gonna be an intense game,” Noble said. “Just bodies flying everywhere. It was a great game to play in.”Regis opened the scoring with a goal in the first period, but Summit answered in the second when sophomore defenseman James Lowrey poked home a rebound off a shot by Campbell.After the Raiders made it 2-1, Summit forward Jeff Montepare took a pass from Lowrey and, with just 1 second to go in the second period, roofed a wrister on an angle nobody detected but him. It was Montepare’s team-leading 14th goal of the year.
From there, Campbell buried his 13th goal of the season – which Regis coach Dan Woodley, a former NHL player, later called the key play of the game – junior goalie Nick Springer turned away numerous Raiders shots, and Gutierrez and Noble added insurance tallies.”Words really can’t explain it because we’ve been waiting two days for that win,” said Campbell, who also added two assists. “It just feels really good to finally beat that team.”The Tigers will face No. 4 Cheyenne Mountain (15-3) at the Steve today at 4 p.m., with the winner moving on to next weekend’s state semifinals in Denver.Devon O’Neil can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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