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Summit hockey sinks Air Academy

Bryce Evans
summit daily news

Each of the last three seasons, the Tigers entered the playoffs with their eyes on a run to the Frozen Four. And each of the last three seasons, they were sent packing after the first game. Bad bounces, hot goaltending, untimely penalties – the Summit High hockey team couldn’t catch a break.

But in Friday’s first-round matchup with Air Academy, that trend was put to an end.

With about six minutes remaining, the Tigers finally got the postseason break it needed: Air Academy’s goalie, who’d been outstanding all night, was whistled for a penalty when the officials noticed he was missing a required piece of equipment. He had to serve the 10-minute misconduct penalty, while his team had to try to kill a 2-minute minor with a cold back-up thrown into the net.

The Tigers took full advantage.

Senior captain Dak Dice buried a back-door feed for his second goal of the night and a dramatic 5-4 win at The Edge Ice Arena in Littleton.

“It was a great win,” SHS head coach Chris Ruhly said. ” … The enthusiasm from the guys in the locker room after the game, it was just great to see. The guys were really excited about it.”

It was Summit’s sixth win in the last eight games and the third time the Tigers had to get a “W” in come-from-behind fashion.

The Tigers twice trailed by two goals Friday night and twice came back to beat the Peak Conference’s third seed. (Summit was the sixth seed from the Foothills Conference.)

“We talked about how we’d been down before and we just needed to work hard and get back in it,” Ruhly said. “They played very well the rest of the game and were able to pull off the win.”

The Tigers outshot Air Academy 41-24 but fell behind early on.

Summit gave up a goal on a 5-on-3 penalty kill early in the first, and Air Academy struck again late in the period to take a 2-0 lead.

Dice got Summit on the board early in the second, when he tipped in a shot from the point. Sophomore Evan Streit scored moments later, but Air Academy answered by pushing the lead back to 4-2.

Completing the high-flying second period, sophomore Sean Farley cut the lead to one by burying a breakaway, and senior Kyle Metzger blasted in a shot on a power play to tie the game.

Summit outshot Air Academy 22-8 in the period.

“We came out with intensity and the passion we lacked in that first period,” Ruhly said.

The hard-fought third period went back-and-forth before Summit got the fortunate call in a key situation.

“We’re going to enjoy this,” Ruhly said. “I told them they can enjoy it the whole bus ride back (to Summit County), but once we’re home, we have to start thinking about the next game.”

That game will be tonight at The Edge at 6:30 p.m. The Tigers will play the winner of the matchup between No. 2 Chatfield and No. 7 Machebeuf.

The last time Summit made the Frozen Four, the Tigers beat Air Academy in the first round and Machebeuf in the second.

“If that’s who we’re playing, we hope history repeats itself,” Ruhly said. ” … If we play the way we did (Friday night), we have a good chance to take (either team) down.”


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