Summit hockey team clinches playoff spot |

Summit hockey team clinches playoff spot

The situation was simple: Win, and the Tigers were headed to the postseason; lose, and, well, it would be time to start thinking about spring sports.

The Summit High hockey team’s entire season rested on Saturday’s game at Columbine, but with all the anxiety leading up to the opening faceoff, the Tigers eliminated any drama early on.

Summit jumped out to a 3-0 first-period lead and cruised to a 7-1 win behind three goals from senior defenseman Kyle Metzger.

“It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t our best game ever, but we got the job done and we’re headed to the playoffs,” SHS head coach Chris Ruhly said.

The win – and some help from other teams losing – moved the Tigers into sixth place in the Foothills Conference standings to finish the regular season. A loss would have had them sitting in ninth, one spot out of the postseason.

“We put ourselves in a position where it came down to the last game of the season,” Ruhly said. “We’ve had our backs against the wall for the last three weeks. We put ourselves in that position, but we also put ourselves in a position where we controlled our own destiny.”

And Summit seized control quickly Saturday.

Metzger ripped a low shot from the point into the back of the net for the Tigers’ first goal, not even 2 minutes into the game.

Seniors J.P. Schoefield and Dylan Junkermeier added goals in the first, as Summit dominated play.

Buck Marshall and Evan Streit would score later in the game, and Metzger scored in both the second and the third periods to give the Tigers the 7-1 win.

Senior goalie Andrew Dunlap made 17 saves, as Summit outshot Columbine by 25.

The win capped off a very up-and-down regular season for Summit.

The Tigers came into the season with a young squad and a very short bench. Yet, Summit started 5-1 with impressive wins over rivals Aspen and Battle Mountain.

Then, the Tigers dropped five of their next seven games, falling down toward the bottom of the standings and making the final six contests vital if they wanted to make the playoffs.

They rattled off wins against Dakota Ridge, Peak to Peak, Standley Lake and Monarch before losing to No. 1 Regis Jesuit on Friday night.

And with the dominating win over Columbine, the Tigers now have a fresh start.

“Once the playoffs get going, everyone’s back to 0-0,” Ruhly said.

As the sixth seed in the Foothills Conference, the Tigers will play the No. 3 team in the Peak Conference, which has yet to be determined.

Regardless of who they play, Ruhly likes his team’s chances – well, if the Tigers rise to the challenge, that is.

“If we play the way we played against Standley Lake or against Monarch, we have a great opportunity,” he said. “If we play the way we did against Regis or even (against Columbine), it’ll be a short postseason for us.”

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