Huskies go back to the Frozen Four
VAIL – The premise for Battle Mountain hockey going into this weekend’s Frozen Four is very simple.”Don’t have another chance,” senior co-captain Austin Chow said. “This is it.”For the fourth year, Battle Mountain is heading to Colorado Springs for the semis and, it hopes, the finals. The last three years have been bitter ones:– A 3-2 double overtime loss in the finals to Cheyenne Mountain in 2002.– A 4-1 loss to Kent Denver in the semifinals in 2003.– A 4-3 loss to Kent in the semis … again … in 2004.”It’s the pain of the last two years in the semifinals,” co-captain Brad Myers said. “I think that even though we’re 21-0 that it’s still fueling the fire. Austin, Alex (Biegler), Karl (Eklund), we’ve all felt that pain for the last two years where we haven’t been able to win that state championship. It’s been hard on us. This is the last hurrah for us. We want to do something special and bring home the state championship.”Cheyenne Mountain at 5:05 p.m. Friday at the World Arena at the Springs is obstacle No. 1. If the Huskies get by the Indians, they get the winner of Air Academy-Bishop Machebeuf Saturday at 7:05 p.m.
Big iceWhen one talks about the World Arena, the first thing that comes to mind is that this is a big sheet of ice – 200-by-100 feet. That’s 19,500-square feet of frozen pond.For Battle Mountain, this can go both ways. The Huskies are the fastest team in the state and so more room is a plus. Opponents can’t hit what they can’t catch. That’s especially important when you consider Chow’s racked up 39 goals and 29 assists this season, a state record. Myers comes in with 33-19, which would be a record had it not been for Austin-what’s-his-name.On the other side of the coin, Battle Mountain skates only two lines in close games, and it’s a safe assumption that Friday’s game will be a tight one. How much gas will these two lines have in the tank covering such a big surface in the third period?Battle Mountain’s taking it as a positive. The forecheck will be the key for the Huskies, according to head coach Andy Hire.”We’ll probably throw a third line in there once a period if we can,” he said. “If not, our forecheck is a lot of east-to-west skating, not going north and south. So, we’re going to conserve a lot of energy by using the angles of the boards as opposed to going straight line sprinting at people. These guys don’t get tired. It’s really amazing.”More ice is also a challenge for the blueliners and goalie Karl Eklund. “It’s going to be a challenge for everybody, including Karl,” Myers said. “Even on that bigger ice, that makes his angles different. Everybody’s going to have to play a little harder.””It’s going to come down to good defensive one-on-one play, helping Karl out and being really responsible on our forecheck,” Hire said. “We ran our same forecheck against (Cheyenne) that we did against Air Academy. I worked really well. It works, if we stick to it.”
The Indians CHSAA hockey history starts with Cheyenne Mountain. The Indians have made the Frozen Four in each of the 30 years the sport has been contested. Cheyenne Mountain is the defending state champ and has 15 championship banners to its credit.The Indians got to this point by finishing second in the Mountain Conference behind Aspen with a 9-3 mark and a 16-5 record overall. The Indians smashed Liberty, 7-0, and slayed Battle Mountain’s archrival, Kent Denver, 2-1, to win the Pueblo regional.Coach Mike Provenzano has a deep roster. Dylan Johnson leads the team with 18 goals and 20 helpers. There’s also Paul Lindau (13-16), Ben Robinson (10-9), Dusty Beman (13-11) and Matt Parks (6-14).Cheyenne is backstopped by goalie Michael Findlay who has seven shutouts this season.The Huskies edged the Indians, 3-2, in December on the road. “I wouldn’t change anything we’ve done the whole season,” Myers said. “We’re 21-0 and we’ve beat Cheyenne before. We can do it again.”‘A special group’
After last year’s team fell short and graduated 11 seniors, the scuttlebutt was that Battle Mountain hockey was done. To the contrary, Battle Mountain hasn’t lost since that fateful semi one year ago.Like last year, there is a certain sense of urgency to grab the brass ring.”You try to take whatever you can from those games, even though it was in a losing effort,” Chow said. “You just try to use that experience to win that next one. Going down there the last three years and losing has been the toughest thing so far for me. Just being able to have another chance is great, going in there with the refuse-to-lose attitude that we need. You can’t take anything for granted.”What’s past is past and the Huskies are ready for a fresh start in the Springs.”I think this community and this team is going to get something that they’ve been working hard for the last four years,” Hire said. “This is a special group that’s going to do it for us.””I get chills thinking about it,” Myers said. I’ve been working my whole high school career for this, Hopefully, Saturday night we will be skating a victory lap around World Arena.”Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614 or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado