Summit High boy’s hockey beats Air Academy, 5-3, for 1st victory
Special to the Daily
The Summit High School Tigers entered the thick of the varsity hockey season this January, with a slate of three games spread across the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. Here’s how the boys fared.
Summit vs. Liberty | Jan. 13
On Jan. 13, Summit kicked off the weekend against the Liberty High School Lancers of Colorado Springs. Due to scheduling, the game was the Lancers’ 10th of the season and only Summit’s fifth, and the Tigers faced a team beginning to find its stride.
The competitive first period resulted in a physical back-and-forth game, with both teams generating opportunities until Liberty scored off the post on Summit sophomore Zane Gallegos. The Lancers added another tally with 20 seconds remaining in the period — again, the puck went post and in — to take a 2-0 lead into the second period.
Liberty added three second-period goals, all at even strength, as they chased Gallegos from the net and senior Goalie Kyle Rogers entered the game. The deflated Tigers exited a frustrating second period down, 0-5.
The frustrations didn’t end there, as less than five minutes into the third the Lancers scored yet again while shorthanded. Shortly thereafter, the Tigers finally showed some signs of life as freshman Issac Eland scored his second goal of the season, with a setup by Ben Carlson. Carlson added a score of his own on a breakaway 21 seconds later, followed by sophomore Josh Dresen to narrow the gap, 3-6.
And that was the end of the comeback. Liberty put a final nail in the coffin late in the third to deal the Tigers a fourth loss for the season.
Summit vs. Air Academy | Jan. 14
The Tigers’ sixth game of the season was a matinee matchup against the Air Academy Kadets (2-5 overall). The Tigers seized upon the opportunity and came out strong in the first period, outshooting the Kadets 9-2, with sophomores Tim Herwig and Dorje John both notching goals in the first period.
The Kadets players shook off their proverbial “bus legs” in the second period and scored twice early to even the score, 2-2. The two teams then traded goals late in the second, bringing things to a 3-3 tie at the end of two.
Senior defenseman Brian Curnutte scored the final goal of the second period after an assist from Pinnacle Conference points leader Ben Carlson. Carlson leads Summit’s young, 24-player roster (including 11 freshmen) with two goals and 10 assists. Due to the overwhelming number of young players, freshmen and sophomores have combined for 14 of the team’s 18 total goals.
“It’s kind of a derivative of the composition of the team,” said head coach Billy Barto, who is excited to watch these young players develop. “We have a lot of young players, and they are already starting to step up and position themselves as players we can rely on.”
Thirteen minutes into the third, Summit’s leading goal scorer, freshman Max Bonenberger, tallied his fourth goal of the season and gave the Tigers the lead once more. Soon after on a power play, Sean Gurlea sunk the puck to give the Tigers a 5-3 lead — and seal the team’s first win of the season. Senior netminder Kyle Rogers made 32 saves in the win, and the entire team took a much-needed win into the first showdown of the season with No. 10 Steamboat Springs.
Steamboat | Jan. 16
The Sailors (6-2-1 overall) came to Summit County riding a four-game winning streak, including a 10-2 thrashing of Liberty on Jan. 14 — the same team that dominated the Tigers 7-3 on Jan. 13.
Steamboat got off to a quick start, as Sailors senior Andrew Mitchell put a breakaway goal past Summit keeper Kyle Rogers less than four minutes into the first period. Summit cinched down on defense and battled back in the period. Although the Tigers failed to even the score, the team left the period on a high note, and then killed a power play to start the second period. Chances were plentiful for the Tigers in the second period, as three different Steamboat players made trips to the box in a five-minute stretch, giving the Tigers ample five-on-three time.
Summit finally managed to break through late in the second period, as freshman defenseman Luke Gosnell sunk a rebound off a shot by points leader Carlson during a power play. It was a rare power play goal for the Tigers, who have struggled with the man advantage this season.
“It’s really been awful,” Carlson said. “We haven’t been able to get much going, and we have as many shorthanded goals against (us) as power play goals for (us). We really need to get the PP going if we want to have success. It’s going to take attention to detail and practice.”
The late goal leveled the score at 1-1 and the Tigers entered the third period after two of the team’s best periods this season. Despite this success, Summit gave up three goals in the final frame and dropped the game, 1-4.
“We’re finding our way through and we are still a very young team, but the team is starting to buy into the concept,” Barto said after the game. “We will make mistakes, but it’s how you respond to them. We need to put together three good periods to win these games. Tonight we played two solid periods, but we need to play a complete game.”
The Tigers next travel to Air Academy on Jan. 20 to play the Kadets again.
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