SHS hockey meets Aspen tonight in state playoffs
BRECKENRIDGE – When the puck drops tonight in the Summit High School hockey team’s first-round state playoff game in Aspen, the Tigers will have had a season of ups and downs to learn from. The Skiers are probably hoping the Tigers haven’t been taking notes.Fourteenth-seeded SHS (6-11-1) will battle the No. 3 Aspen Skiers (16-3-0) at 5 p.m. for the right to advance to Saturday’s quarterfinals of the 16-team state tournament. When the two teams met Jan. 5, Aspen had no trouble with the young Tigers, winning 7-2. First-year Summit coach Colin Smith doesn’t remember the game being that lopsided. “Other than a few lucky bounces and too many goals scored on power plays, that game was even,” Smith said after practice on Wednesday. “The scoring chances and shots on goal were about the same. We can skate with this team.”
Freshman forward Scott Noble knows why the Tigers lost.”We just got a lot of penalties, and were shorthanded the whole game,” Noble said. “We have to keep our composure and stay out of the box.”SHS junior forward John Rodger agreed, and believes the Tigers can pull the upset against the Skiers. “That last game against these guys was a fluke,” Rodger said. “Not to be cocky, but I think we got ’em. Everyone’s ready.”No matter what happens in the game, the Tigers will be shorthanded in a different way. Senior forward and co-captain Cam Carlson will miss the game with a separated shoulder, and senior defenseman Kyle Gilchrist will also be out with a shoulder injury. Summit is hoping talented junior defenseman Billy Barto will make a quick recovery from strep throat, but Smith said Barto’s chances to play are “50-50.”
“There’s going to have to be guys stepping up again,” Rodger said. “But we’ve got our lines together, and everyone’s gelled.”With key players out, Smith is expecting some of his younger, less experienced players to assume big roles today.”Tyler Swirka, Andrew Beardsley and Michael Dudick will be out there more,” Smith said. “They have been working hard all season, and what better chance to prove themselves than against Aspen in the state tournament?”If Barto isn’t able to play, Smith said the sophomore Swirka will be expected to play both offense and defense. But he isn’t worried about Swirka’s ability to adjust.”(Swirka) is our utility guy,” Smith said. “He could be a big factor in this game.”
Whoever takes the ice for the Tigers, Noble thinks the game will be more intense than any during the regular season.”It’s going to be a lot faster with more contact,” Noble said. “We need to keep our heads on the game the whole time, not just when we’re on the ice, during intermission, too.” Late Hits: With a win tonight, the Tigers will set a team record for victories in a season with seven … Aspen’s three losses this season include two to No. 1 Battle Mountain, and one to No. 2 Air Academy.Andy Frame can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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