Summit Tigers hockey team to rely on depth going into winter season
After finishing 2-11 last season, the Summit High School Tigers boys hockey team will draw upon added depth as the first faceoff of the 2021-22 season quickly approaches.
There is an increased interest in hockey at the high school this year, which will allow for the program to have a varsity and a junior varsity roster, something that hasn’t happened since the 2019 season.
“It’s really huge to have the numbers and support in the hockey community to bring back JV hockey and have it be self-sustainable,” head coach JR Engelbert said. “We are at a point right now where we are going to have two very competitive hockey teams that are going to sustain themselves and compete where we won’t have to move players around to make things work.”
Engelbert thinks the addition of the junior varsity squad will create a healthy, competitive environment between the Tigers teams.
“People are pushing each other; they are competing against each other to earn their spot and space on the teams,” Engelbert said. “I think that is something that was missing last year was that good, healthy competition among teammates.”
Engelbert’s hope is that this internal competition will lead to more team chemistry and camaraderie as the Tigers look to improve upon their record from last season.
The Tigers hockey team will start off the season with Engelbert conducting weeklong tryouts over the Tigers first week of practice in order to filter out which players will fill both rosters.
Engelbert said he has a good idea who will fill out the varsity roster with returners from last season and kids from the club team he coaches in the fall, but he still holds tryouts to let fall sport athletes get a chance to make the team.
After determining the rosters for the season, the team will start to get after it in preparation for its home opener Dec. 3 against Centaurus.
“Practice will be about effort and doing things the right way,” Engelbert said. “We want guys competing and battling in practice so that when it comes game time, they are already conditioned to that environment and don’t have to turn a switch on. It’s on all the time.”
The Tigers will rely on a strong core of returners to establish the competitive environment Engelbert and the rest of the coaching staff are looking for on the ice.
The core will consist of senior defenseman Zach Carleton, senior forward Hank Kasch, senior defenseman Blaze Ebbinghaus and junior forward Boone Steinberg. All four of these players were contributors on the Tigers team last year and will continue to have a leadership role going into this season.
On top of setting the competitive atmosphere Engelbert is looking for, this group of four will also look to set into motion a high-tempo style of play in hope of battling for the puck and protecting it once they have it. From there, the focus can shift to the offense and scoring goals, but in Engelbert’s eyes, it must start with the defense.
“We are going to earn that puck,” Engelbert said. “Teams can’t score if we have possession, so we are going to build from our goal line and then out to the forwards, to the offensive side. If we can take care of our own side, we have the talent on the team to go score goals, but we have to take care of our side first.”
• Dec. 3 vs. Centaurus, 7:45 p.m.
• Dec. 4 at Cheyenne Mountain, 6:30 p.m.
• Dec. 11 at Aspen, 2 p.m.
• Dec. 17 vs. Colorado Academy, 3:30 p.m.
• Dec. 18 vs. Crested Butte, 7:30 p.m.
• Jan. 7 vs. Glenwood Springs, 7:30 p.m.
• Jan. 8 vs. Mullen, 6 p.m.
• Jan. 14 vs. Liberty, 7:30 p.m.
• Jan. 15 at Standley Lake, 11:15 a.m.
• Jan. 21 at Battle Mountain, 3:30 p.m.
• Jan. 22 vs. Steamboat Springs, 6 p.m.
• Jan. 26 at Crested Butte, 5 p.m.
• Jan. 28 vs. Aspen, 7:30 p.m.
• Jan. 29 vs. Battle Mountain, 3 p.m.
• Feb. 2 at Glenwood Springs, 6 p.m.
• Feb. 4 vs. Kent Denver, 4:45 p.m.
• Feb. 12 vs. Dakota Ridge, 6 p.m.
• Feb. 18 vs. Pueblo County, 5 p.m.
• Feb. 19 at Steamboat Springs, 6 p.m.
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