Tigers to face Palmer in 1st round of state playoffs | SummitDaily.com

Tigers to face Palmer in 1st round of state playoffs

Summit Daily News
Summit County, CO Colorado

Summit Daily/Mark Fox

SUMMIT COUNTY ” It’s all about making it to the first of March.

The date has been burned into the mind of each and every Summit High School hockey player and coach since November because that’s when the state championship game is set to take place.

“We’ve had one goal all season and that’s March 1,” Michael Dudick said during Tuesday’s practice in Breckenridge, “but we’ve got to take it game by game, period by period and shift by shift to get there.”

The Tigers (13-6), who were assigned the No. 9 seed, will enter the playoffs Friday against No. 8 Palmer (14-5) at Battle Mountain.

“We haven’t played Palmer yet,” Tigers coach Bryan Smith said. “I’ve been talking to other coaches about who they have and they have one of the top scorers in the state. They’re also a big and physical team, which we enjoy playing. … That was the same report we got on Regis and it was the best game we played all season.”

Summit was informed on Sunday that it would be competing in Eagle County instead of Denver or Colorado Springs.

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“We feel like we’re playing in our back yard,” Smith said. “And that’s one of the most exciting things about the first round.”

The winner of Friday’s nightcap (scheduled for 8:15 p.m.) will face the victor of the Battle Mountain-Chatfield clash, which begins at 6.

Most Tigers were unwilling to discuss potential second-round opponents during Tuesday’s practice in the interest of both respecting and focusing on Palmer.

Still, it’s difficult to resist the temptation of looking ahead to what has the potential to be a classic rematch on Saturday.

Battle Mountain, which finished 17-2 on the season, suffered both of its losses at the hands of Summit.

“They had four or five kids out when we played them,” Smith said. “So we didn’t see their whole team.

But to me, that doesn’t matter because they didn’t see the team we have right now.”

Summit is finally free of injuries and is subsequently full-strength.

“We have four solid lines I can trust and put out there at any time,” Smith said. “I don’t know that too many other teams have that right now. … In years past, we had two and a half or maybe even two.”

How did the boys in green and white develop so many quality skaters?

“We all love to play hockey together,” Scott Noble said. “It’s a great team atmosphere. Talent definitely helps too ” We have 10 seniors and a lot of the juniors are right there with us.”

Most of the veteran Tigers have learned a thing or two about the postseason after winning their first game last year and their first two games the year before to advance to the Frozen Four.

“We just can’t be too cocky,” Tommy Moles said. “We’ve got to go in thinking we’re playing the best team in the state and play hard. Whoever has the most heart will win the game.”