Battle Mountain hockey earns postseason honors
EDWARDS — CHSAA issued its all-state and all-conference hockey teams on Tuesday, and Battle Mountain was well represented.
Blueliners Robby Gruber and Hunter Fox are both honorable mention all-state as well as well as first-team, all-conference for the Peak. Zach Booth is second team all-conference.
Gruber and goalie Max Clark will be representing the team in the Senior Game on Saturday at the Edge Ice Arena in Littleton.
Postseason honors are always wonderful, and, as a rule, a reflection of the team’s success. Battle Mountain hockey finished 13-4-3, and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, its best season in years in the increasingly competitive world of high school hockey in Colorado.
Yes, the team is called the Huskies, though it draws from Eagle County’s four high schools. But 23 kids tried out for the team, as opposed to the state’s Frozen Four of Monarch, Regis, Cherry Creek and Resurrection Christian, all schools from the Front Range, which have triple-figures trying out for their squads.
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“We have great leadership from our seniors, and that helped us as a coaching staff,” Battle Mountain coach Dennis Hextall said. “They made sure everyone was working hard on practice.”
Battle Mountain’s season statistics are fascinating. Defense was offense for the Huskies in 2016-17.
Gruber led the team in scoring with 15 goals and 25 assists. He wore No. 9, but he played like No. 4, Bobby Orr. In addition to his aforementioned honors, Gruber is also the team’s Hobey Baker Award winner. (For those not familiar with college hockey, it’s the equivalent on the Heisman Trophy.)
Fox continued the trend with eight goals and 13 helpers. Coach Hextall clearly holds Fox in high esteem as he referred to freshman blueliner Parker Nash as “Hunter Nash” in a praiseworthy Freudian slip.
Not everyone can make all-league, but defender Keaton Fedrizzi could have a case. Not only did he rack up 8 and 15, but he likely had the moment of the season, the game-winner in overtime against Aspen during the first round of the playoffs.
Yes, the defense scored, but it also, not-so surprisingly, played defense. Senior Wyatt Alt, as well as freshman Nash, didn’t have flashy numbers, and that’s just fine. The Huskies allowed 42 goals in 20 games.
That’s defense and goaltending, the latter being Clark and Declan Rooney. While Battle Mountain will miss Clark, Rooney’s back for another year to anchor the position.
Oh, yeah, offense
All of this is not to say that there was no punch up front. Booth’s selection for postseason honors testifies to that. The junior had 14 goals and 19 assists, and while lines change a lot during the course of the season, Booth’s partner in lighting the lamp was senior Tanner Caldarola. The Eagle Valley senior led the Huskies in goals (22) and was a key part of the team’s success along with fellow soon-to-be grad Chase Olson.
Hextall said that Battle Mountain will feel the loss of the team’s seven seniors, but that teams younger players gained valuable experience this season and are prepared to take that forward to next season.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.