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Seniors lead Summit hockey to win

BRYCE EVANS
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado

BRECKENRIDGE – As a senior leader, Jon Gutierrez said he knows exactly what he and his line need to do each game: score.

“I guess there’s a little pressure to it, but we know we have to do it to help our team,” he said.

Along with linemates Shamus O’Neill and Sam Dudick, that’s exactly what Gutierrez did Saturday.

The Tigers’ top forward line had a hand in all of Summit’s eight goals in a dominant 8-4 win over Valor Christian to close out the regular season at the Stephen C. West Ice Arena in Breckenridge.

Gutierrez had six points on the night, including five assists. O’Neill had finished with two goals and three assists, and Dudick had two goals and two assists.

Not a bad way to cap off their final home game in a Tiger uniform.

“As a unit playing together, that’s probably the best they’ve played (all year),” SHS head coach Chris Ruhly said. “I really liked what they were doing in terms of moving the puck.”

And they did it early and often.

O’Neill got the Tigers on the scoreboard less than two minutes into the game, when he banked a sharp-angle shot off the Valor Christian goalie and into the back of the net.

On the line’s very next shift, O’Neill took a pass from Gutierrez out of the corner and slid a pass across the crease to Dudick, who banged the puck home for a 2-0 lead.

On a power play later in the first period, Gutierrez fed O’Neill for his second goal of the game and a 3-0 at the first intermission.

The Tigers would add four goals in the second period (all coming with their top line on the ice). Along with tallies from Gutierrez and Dudick, Kyle Metzger and Sean Farley also scored in the period.

Farley would add his second goal of the game early in the third off a feed from Gutierrez.

Valor Christian did manage to score three goals in a quick, two-minute spurt in the third, but the Tigers controlled the entire game.

Summit finished the night with 44 shots on goal, which Ruhly said was a season-high total for his team.

“That was a really good effort, and that’s the kind of win that should give us confidence heading into the playoffs,” Ruhly said.

Despite what Saturday’s score may have indicated, Valor Christian will be one of the 16 teams in the Colorado State Playoffs starting this week.

The decisive win and the play of the Tigers’ top line, Ruhly said, shows what his team could be capable of in the postseason.

“If those three play the way they played today, the way we know they can play, we will play four more games this season,” Ruhly said. “But we can’t just sit back and rely on them to do everything, and everyone needs to step up and contribute.”

For Gutierrez, the senior doesn’t expect anything less than a deep run in the postseason.

“I’d love to finish (my career) off with a state championship,” he said. ” … If we play like we did today and how we played against Ralston Valley (earlier in the season), I’d hope to make at least the Frozen Four.”

The Tigers (12-5-2) find out their playoff seeding today, which will decide when and where they play.


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