Lantz gets his chance
BRECKENRIDGE – For the better part of three years, Tyler Lantz was an exemplary back-up goaltender for Summit High School. He worked hard in practice, prepared for every game like he was starting and supported his coaches’ decisions to keep him on the bench.
But, as is the case with all second-string players, opportunities are usually the by-product of another’s misfortune. And just three games away from finishing his high school career without ever being the Tigers’ No. 1 goalie, Lantz benefitted from the departure of Rick Odria.
Odria – a junior who flashed awe-inspiring talent during his tenure, the player whom Lantz could never pass on the depth chart – left the team before the Feb. 4 game against Air Academy. Suddenly, unexpectedly, Lantz was the man, and he started the Tigers’ final three games, including Saturday’s 9-4 win over Air Academy.
“It was a surprise,” Lantz said, “but I just tried to work my hardest and hang in there.”
Both Lantz and Odria came out for the team when it began in 2000. It didn’t take long before then-coach Ron Byrne was convinced that Odria was the team’s best goalie. Current coach Jake Quigley agreed and didn’t change the lineup. But Lantz never thought he was that far behind Odria.
“At that time and all the way through now, I feel we were pretty close,” he said. “And the coaches said it varied from week to week a lot of times.”
After Odria left, Quigley had no choice. The Tigers were skating without a back-up goalie for the final three games as Lantz showed what he could do between the pipes.
“Tyler has been a proud back-up for three years,” Quigley said, “and the opportunity to be the No. 1 goaltender these last few games I know has meant a ton to him. And he’s done a fine job.”
It’s been quite a change for Summit’s skaters, who were used to relying on Odria to make routine and ridiculous saves. Captain Ryan Clift said that playing with Lantz has been a kind of wake-up call.
“It’s definitely made us play a lot harder than we were,” he said. “Usually we were able to just sit back and rely on our goalie. Tyler is a great goalie … but it just made us step up our defense and play a lot harder and work a lot better as a team.”
Both goalies hope to continue playing – Odria in the Junior Hockey ranks and Lantz at Division III St. Olaf college in Minnesota.
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