A fresh start for Summit High hockey | SummitDaily.com

A fresh start for Summit High hockey

BRECKENRIDGE – As much as the Summit High School hockey team would like to forget some of what happened last season, it has decided to accept and learn from it.

“Last year we had all the talent in the world, and we didn’t do jack with it,” said always-candid senior Chris Jocelyn. “This year, I think we have a lot of hard workers that are willing to do whatever it takes to win.”

Off-ice problems with key players last year led to an unravelling of the Tigers’ 6-9-2 season. Summit lost six of its last eight games, including a blowout in the first round of the playoffs.

“We were worrying about stuff off the ice when we should have been worrying about stuff on the ice,” Summit goaltender Rick Odria admitted. “You can’t focus on the game if you’re focusing on stuff off the ice.”

With a new coach – former assistant Jake Quigley – some up-and-coming sophomores and a restructured league, the Tigers have before them a clean slate in 2002/’03. It’s exactly what they need.

“I want to learn from our lessons from the past,” said Quigley, who was hired in September to replace Ron Byrne. “This year we have a little bit of a different approach with the new coaching staff, and we’re excited. We think it’s gonna be a great season.”

Quigley said he and first-year assistant Bob Dore have tried to develop work ethic and tenaciousness at preseason practices. It’s the kind of approach the players crave.

“I really think we need to emphasize work ethic, because last year we didn’t have the strongest work ethic, and that really showed in the games,” Jocelyn said. “In practice, if you’re skating as hard as you can every time you’re out there, then it’s going to pay off at the end of the season.”

Jocelyn came back from a Junior Hockey club in Michigan to finish his high school career at Summit. His stint in Junior Hockey never really got started because of a recurring shoulder injury. He was living with a host family and going to high school near Detroit for about three months before deciding to return to the Tigers.

“I’ve skated with most of these guys all my life, so it kind of feels right to be back skating for my last season,” he said. “Then I can go play Juniors all I want.”

The Tigers have 19 on the roster: six seniors, eight juniors, three sophomores and two freshman.

Seniors Jocelyn and Ryan Clift will be counted on to score goals, while Dan Kincaid, Chris Shult and Jared Freeman will lead the defense.

Quigley is expecting a lot of production from junior forwards Mike Morgan, Jeff Noble, Garrett Bjork and Andrew Ehrmann. He also is excited about underclassmen Jon Walsh and Max Miller, who will have to step up to big roles for the Tigers to be successful.

“We’ve got a lot of sophomore talent,” Quigley said. “Once they get used to the high-school tempo, the physical(ity) and the speed of the game, I think they’re gonna fit right in.”

Summit has one of the most talented goaltenders in the league in junior Rick Odria. Senior Tyler Lantz will push him for the starting spot all season.

“We will have a No. 1 and a No. 2 goaltender,” Quigley said. “They won’t have equal status. But if we feel our No. 1 goaltender is off his game, and we see that our No. 2 is working his butt off, we’ll give him a shot.”

Summit lost seniors Gabe Rovick and Chad Blackman to preseason problems.

The Colorado High School Ice Hockey League has been reshuffled this season. Two new teams – one in Steamboat Springs and one in Denver at Colorado Academy – have bumped the league to 18 teams. The league is now split into three conferences. Summit will play in the Foothills Conference with Air Academy, Colorado Academy, Doherty, Kent Denver and Pine Creek.

The Tigers’ home ice at the Stephen C. West Arena in Breckenridge will host two days of conference playoff games Feb. 21 and 22. Almost every team in the league will get a playoff berth.

Summit opens the SHS winter sports season with a game Monday at Liberty in Colorado Springs. The Tigers play rival Battle Mountain Wednesday in their home opener.

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