Tigers hockey competes at a high level in final losses of the season
Summit falls 4-3 in overtime at home to Glenwood Springs, 5-3 on the road to undefeated Crested Butte
It was a struggle of a season, but the Summit High School varsity hockey team fought all the way through, including in back-to-back losses Tuesday and Wednesday nights, to finish the season 2-11.
“This was a group of guys that just wanted to battle and compete,” first-year head coach JR Engelbert said while driving back from Summit’s hard-fought 5-3 loss at undefeated Crested Butte on Wednesday night. “It could have been easy for them to give up this season, given the record. But they never did, and it shows a lot of character about players and a team that, even when it’s not going your way, you never stop competing or giving it your all.”
Despite residing at the bottom of the 4A Mountain League standings, Summit showcased that grit and belief in a 4-3 senior night loss Tuesday to Glenwood Springs. Then after that final home game for the seniors in front of their parents, Summit played what Engelbert described as “a really good hockey game” at Crested Butte on Wednesday.
“We definitely came out with some energy and jump that this was our last game of the season,” Engelbert said. “We wanted to try to end on as high of a note as possible. I think we had a little incentive — relatively, we didn’t have a whole lot to lose. Crested Butte is playing for keeping a perfect record, senior night at home, and I think that gave us a little extra motivation to go out there and battle that team and to give them the game we did.”
Engelbert praised Tigers freshman goaltender Finn Schroder’s performance Wednesday, turning away 49 of 54 shots for a save percentage of 91%.
“He definitely weathered some storms that kept us in it and made some timely saves, as well, that went a long way building and holding momentum,” Engelbert said. “It was his best game of the season, so it’s great to see him peak right at the end there.”
Summit rallied back from a 2-0 deficit with a pair of goals late in the second period. The first was in an even-strength situation scored by John Weldon, assisted by senior Ranger Stone. The second came on a power-play by Blaze Ebbinghaus, assisted by Calvin Hanson and senior captain defenseman Foster Krueger. Engelbert said the “right spot, right time” goal by Krueger boosted team morale.
Then, just 29 seconds into the third period, Summit took a 3-2 lead on a power-play goal by senior Jack Sherlock assisted by Zach Carleton and Hank Kasch. But Crested Butte responded with three final goals to complete a perfect 10-0-0 4A Mountain title season.
On Tuesday night, Summit honored seniors Andi Bierbaum, Caleb Mallory, Ryley Cibula, Peyton McGuan, Cooper Pederson, Cole Sakata, Krueger and Sherlock in a thriller at Stephen C. West Ice Arena in Breckenridge. Despite being outshot 44-21 by Glenwood Springs, Bierbaum’s 40-save showing in net kept Summit in the game early when it was missing several players due to discipline carrying over from the previous game.
Come the second period, Summit’s Hanson scored an even-strength goal to join Stone in the goal-scoring column. Engelbert said the senior group came out with extra passion and spark Tuesday, and that included the play of Cibula, namely the forward’s even-strength goal in the final moments of the third period that forced overtime. The goal came while Engelbert was drawing up something on the board for someone in the next line.
“That’s the type of goal you play over in your head from being a young hockey player, coming through for your team in that clutch moment,” Engelbert said. “He got his opportunity and made sure to finish.”
Cibula took one for the team, earning a 2-minute minor for a foul against Demons star scorer Colter Strautman on a breakaway 3:31 into the overtime. Strautman won the game with a power-play goal 80 seconds later.
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