Huskies down Rampart in OT in Eagle
EAGLE, Colorado ” Overtime for Battle Mountain hockey? No problem. Just call Geoff Funk.
“I’m a senior, last year, gotta make it big,” Funk said. “They’ve got to come eventually.”
Saturday night at the Eagle Ice Arena, Funk scored 2:53 into the extra period for his second overtime goal of the season, as Battle Mountain squeaked by Rampart, 1-0, to clinch second place in the Peak Conference, going into next week’s state playoffs.
Officially, the goal went down as Funk from Rudi Baldwin and Jack Sunderland. Cody Kleisinger might have got a piece of the puck, but no matter. The end result was a happy group of Huskies, who finish the regular season at 10-3 in the Peak and 13-6 overall.
“It was playoff hockey,” Battle Mountain coach Gary Defina said. “We told them that before the game. It’s playoffs tonight and it’s playoffs next week. We knew it was going to be a tough, low-scoring game just like last year in the playoffs. We needed to keep getting pucks to the net. That was a great test. They’re a good team.”
‘He’s not bad, huh’
On the scoresheet, the Huskies outshot the Rams, 32-11. While Rampart’s total was in all likelihood, underestimated, Battle Mountain had the majority of the play.
The only problem for the Huskies was that Rams goalie Jeremy Byrns was a brick wall. The senior made spectacular save after save, keeping his team in the game.
“I felt good tonight,” Byrns said. “”I knew we had to win tonight, so I knew I had to play well.”
“He’s not bad, huh,” Rams coach Josh McIntosh said dryly. “We think we have several good goalies on this team and he’s just raised his game a level over the last week. It’s definitely a good thing to build on, a good performance.”
Battle Mountain would certainly agree.
“He’s right there, if he’s not the best (we’ve seen),” Defina said. “He’s big and he moves well for a big guy.”
Perhaps the Huskies best chance of many came with 1:07 left in regulation when Funk had a breakaway, only to be snuffed out by a Byrns pad save.
Meanwhile, Rampart did have its opportunities. The Rams were likely kicking themselves on the bus ride back to Colorado Springs after missing the net on a 2-on-none breakaway at the end of the second period. When the Rams put the puck on net, the Huskies’ Kalen Burnett stood large between the pipes with two big saves in overtime as well as helping his team kill a 5-on-3 power play in the middle stanza.
“He was spectacular,” Funk said of Burnett. “I just can’t thank him enough.”
Both the Huskies and Rams had another thing in common Saturday besides good goaltending. Both needed Steamboat Springs to beat Palmer, so that the Huskies-Rams winner could move up in the Peak Conference.
The Sailors obliged, downing Palmer, 2-0. While the parents and fans of both teams knew all the scenarios for how the conference race would shake out if their team won, few knew what would happen with a tie.
The Huskies took that possibility out of play in OT by a few inches. Baldwin cranked his shot from the point and perfectly ” right along the ice. Somewhere in the mass of bodies in from of the net, Funk got his stick down, redirecting the puck.
Funk’s tip drill barely got the puck over Byrns’ left side and the biscuit ever-so-slowly cleared the goal line.
“I just got enough of it to get it over his pad,” Funk said. “It just rolled over his pad and crossed the line. I was watching it. I saw him put his glove on it and try to bring it back. I was like, ‘Please tell me the ref saw it.'”
Meanwhile, Baldwin was just about as surprised as anyone.
“I was so excited,” he said. “I didn’t think I’d ever be in that position.”
Byrns had no chance with so much traffic in front.
“It was a screen. I didn’t see it,” the Rampart senior said. “I guess the puck got tipped and it rolled across the line. I couldn’t see it at all.”
The state-playoff bracket comes out today on chsaa.org. There are four regional sites for next weekend. By rotation, Aspen is the High Country venue ” Battle Mountain and Dobson hosted last year. The Apex in Arvada, the Family Sports Center in Littleton and Sertich in Colorado Springs are the other sites.
Regis (18-0-1), the defending state champ and Foothills Conference champion, has held the top spot in the polls all season and should be the top seed.
That should be about the only simple decision for the seeding committee. The group will be filling out the top-eight teams, and the Peak champ, Lewis-Palmer, is not guaranteed the No. 2 spot, a factor which will affect Battle Mountain’s placement.
At 17-1-1, Ralston Valley, second in the Foothills, is the favorite for No. 2. That would put Lewis-Palmer third. Summit County at 15-3-1 has an edge for the fourth seed by virtue of beating Battle Mountain in December.
As always with CHSAA, your mileage may vary. Defina said he can see his team going in as high as fourth and as low as seventh.
The Huskies were banged up after Saturday’s game. Forward Chris Davis sat out the game. Kleisinger dinged his right shoulder and was in visible discomfort outside the locker room. And then there’s Defina. He was sporting cuts on his nose and above his right eye after the game. “I got tangled up with the kids and fell on the bench in the third period,” he said. Defina’s good-to-go for the playoffs. … Defina’s three stars were 1) Funk, 2) Burnett) and 3) Huskies blueliner Brian Ratkowski. The Daily goes with 1) Byrns, 2) Burnett and 3) Funk. … Funk’s previous overtime goal came in a 5-4 win against Cheyenne Mountain at Dobson last month. … Our very own Bob Brown won Chuck-a-Puck between the second and third periods.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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