Breck Vipers men’s team brings 3rd hockey title to town in 2016
Breckenridge, welcome your third championship hockey team of the season. And, as true gentlemen, they let the ladies win first.
Well, mostly. On March 20, the Breckenridge Blizzard women’s team won a Division 2A state title in Fort Collins. On March 27, the final day in a best-of-three series, the Breckenridge Vipers men’s team defeated the Pike’s Peak Vigilantes in Breck to claim the division and overall regular season title for the Mountain West Hockey League, a Senior A minor league. (These guys are the real deal.) Then, the very next weekend on April 3 in Vail, the ladies of Fatty’s Fury won their state title for the women’s Mountain Division.
So that’s four titles in one small mountain town: one for ladies, then two for men, then one for ladies again. Now, the Vipers are headed to the MWHL Cup Finals in Las Vegas.
But first, the Rocky Division title victory. Pike’s Peak edged out the Vipers in Game One, 4-2. The next night, with their home crowd cheering them on, the Vipers came back to defeat Pike’s Peak in a 4-3 victory, followed by another 4-3 win in Game Three at Stephen C. West Ice Arena.
It came down to the Vipers’ last game of the season, percentages and two out-of-state teams, but the Vipers edged the San Diego Skates to win the MWHL regular season title. When the Vipers lost their final regular season game to Vail Yeti on March 20, the Skates had a slight edge going into their last home game. The Arizona Outlaws played the role of spoiler, taking a one-goal victory against San Diego. The loss gave the skates a .750 points percentage, while the Vipers finished the season with .790 points percentage.
Breckenridge is the fourth team to win the MWHL regular season title since the league was founded in 2012. Other winners were Las Vegas, Vail and San Diego. Had the Skates won that final game against the Outlaws, they would have been the first team to repeat as regular season champions.
A championship season
The Vipers compiled a 12-3-1 record, scoring 106 goals versus 59 allowed. Vipers captain Rick Batenburg led the league in overall scoring, with 19 goals and 42 assists for 61 points. Teammate Tyler Cavan was the league’s top individual goal scorer and finished second in overall scoring, with 23 goals and 25 assists for 48 points.
As luck would have it, the Vipers now get to face the team they already beat once with math. Breckenridge plays San Diego — winner of the Sierra Division regular season championship — in the 2016 MWHL Cup Championship. The championship begins April 29 in Las Vegas and brings together finalists from the MWHL’s two divisions, Rocky Division and Sierra Division, in a best-of-three series for the MWHL Cup.
Can’t make it to Vegas? All games will be simulcast live on the MWHL’s YouTube channel.
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