Summit Youth Hockey PeeWee team wins 2016 state championship in Denver
Special to the Daily
Editor’s note: The author is a coach for the SYHA PeeWee team.
The Summit Youth Hockey Association PeeWee A team had a very dynamic (albeit up and down) season. And now they’re state champions.
The Summit team managed to squeak into the Continental Divide Youth Hockey League playoffs by the skin of their teeth, squeezing past Telluride. The two teams were tied for points, but Summit won the tiebreaker thanks to a win against Telluride earlier in the season.
Though the CDYHL playoffs did not go well for the home team — they fell to Aspen and Vail to make an early exit — they regrouped the following week for the Colorado Amateur Hockey Association State Championship Tournament.
During the CDYHL tournament weekend, the Summit PeeWee B and Squirt C teams managed to win runner-up status in their respective conferences, giving the entire youth Summit program success that was absent from the previous season’s campaign.
CAHA State Tourney
The CAHA tournament was developed to give all Colorado teams a chance to compete for a state championship, rather than just the league champions.
A total of 19 PeeWee A teams vied for the title of champion this year. Summit’s team battled through the round robin format from March 4-6 and emerged with an undefeated record, dismantling Littleton White 7-0 behind goals from forwards Matt Landis, Ranger Stone, Toby Gard and Tyler Wilson. Defenseman Lasse Konecny and Captain Zach Carleton also got into the mix with one goal apiece.
The dominance set the tone for the weekend, as the Summit boys drew Littleton’s Red team the next morning. The local crew quickly went down by two goals in the first period and was forced to claw back. Littleton awoke a sleeping giant, taking a penalty early in the second period to put Summit on the power play. Summit wasted no time and rallied less than a minute into the power play, as team captain Carleton stepped into the slot and received a pass from Wilson, which he promptly buried in the net. Summit then equalized the score with Stone chipping in a rebound from Begley.
The third period turned into an all-out battle until, finally, the Summit line broke through. Noah Turner won a faceoff and passed the puck to Michael Wishowski, who swung it back up to defenseman Blaze Ebbinghaus. The defender’s one-timer rattled in to put Summit on top.
Summit’s defense came through again, this time on the other side of the ice, shutting down every attack to preserve the 3-2 win.
Summit faced Telluride the following day. Goaltender Kaeden Edstrom was up to the task of preserving a 0-0 tie, notching a shutout to secure Summit a spot in the Final Four.
State Final Four
The next weekend, March 12-13, Summit faced a familiar foe: Littleton Red at Big Bear Arena in Denver. The prize on the line: An opportunity to play for the state title at Pepsi Center on Sunday.
This prize clearly weighed heavily on the teams. The first period was scoreless, leading to a second-period power play with Wilson breaking the zeroes with a goal — the start of a massive weekend for him. Begley had another tally shortly after, followed by a Littleton goal to make the score 2-1.
Sloppy play late in the period again put Summit on the power play and Wilson scored his second of the contest. Konecny pushed the Summit lead to 4-1 on another power play, as he brought a loose puck out of the corner and slipped it past the goalie.
But Littleton would not say die. They relentlessly attacked the Summit goal, and despite a valiant effort by defenseman Calvin Hanson (he blocked a half dozen shots in the final minutes) Littleton scored two late goals. It was a nerve-wracking third period, but Littleton’s push was too little, too late, as Wilson scored one more for the hat trick — and Summit’s ticket to face Boulder Green at Pepsi Center.
The feisty Summit team entered the game as the lower seed, but they quickly established their game. Rylee Dunum drew a penalty to once again give Summit the power play. Wilson struck with lethal force and opened up the scoring late in the first period, going top shelf on the Boulder goalie.
Wilson scored again just two minutes later — his fifth goal of the Final Four — as he pounced on linemate Begley’s rebound and lifted a shot over the goalie’s pad.
Boulder came out firing in the second period and scored an early goal to cut the lead to one. However, Summit would not be denied success, as yet again Wilson rang a puck off the post and into the net for his second hat trick of the weekend. This pushed the Summit lead to 3-1.
Summit’s Hank Kasch, Landis and Gard kept the puck deep and frustrated Boulder’s line, leading to yet another power play opportunity. This time, Begley tipped in a shot to bolster the lead. A furious Boulder effort in the third period drew several Summit penalties, but Edstrom and company stood tall on defense, turning aside every scoring opportunity.
Summit left the Pepsi Center with a Division State Championship Banner — the first of its kind for a Summit team.
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