Huskies – plus a Tiger – third at inline nationals
Hundreds of teams play inline hockey from the beaches of Santa Monica, Calif., to Long Island, N.Y.
And out of this mass of pucks, pads, skates and players came the Battle Mountain Huskies – six Huskies and one Summit Tiger, to be exact – who ended up finishing in third place at the 2003 USA Hockey Inline National Championships High School Varsity Tournament in Alpharetta, Ga., last weekend.
Battle Mountain’s Jason Chase, Keith Denton, Eric Hansen, Turi Olson, Nathan Simon and Adam Weiss as well as Summit High’s Max Miller played eight games in three days, piling up a 5-3 mark.
“I’m very proud of these guys,” said Jim Meehan, who coached the team with Tom Olson, Turi’s father. “They played outstanding despite having eight games in three days. They got tired, but they never slowed down. They played at their highest level.”
The Huskies went 4-2 in pool play to take the third-seed for the playoffs. Battle Mountain drew the North Babylon Bulldogs of Long Island and advanced with a 2-1 win, one of the few low-scoring games in this high-flying tournament. Denton, who made the all-tournament team, and Chase put up Battle Mountain’s goals. Hansen, an anchor between the pipes all weekend, got the win and, in the process, saw more rubber than any goalie ever should in a lifetime.
“A lot of people think the puck comes faster at you in inline than on ice,” Meehan said. “You can have three or four shots on you in a matter of seconds. Eric played great.”
The seminfinals started on a fine note, with likely the goal of the tourney for the Huskies from Turi Olson. But that, with goals from Simon and Denton, weren’t enough as the Huskies fell, 4-3, to the South Regional Rams of New Jersey, who eventually went on to win the tournament.
Pool play started with a 4-2 win against the Milton (Ga.) Eagles. Weiss and Simon each scored twice and Chase had two helpers.
The Huskies fell to 1-1 with a 4-1 loss to the Boone Braves of Orlando, Fla. Denton scored the team’s only goal.
The crew rebounded with a 5-2 victory vs. the Woodlands Highlanders of Dallas. Simon had two, while Denton, Olson and Chase each ripped the twine once. Miller led in the assists column with two.
In an omen of things to come, The Huskies next fell to the Southern Regional Rams, 4-2, with the Huskies’ goals coming from Weiss and Miller. But the Huskies took it out on the Georgia state champs, the South Forsyth War Eagles, in the form of a 9-3 beating. Denton had an eight-point outing – five goals and three assists. Chase and Simon had two-goal games and Miller put up the playmaker with three assists.
The Huskies wrapped pool play with a 5-3 win over North Babylon. Miller recorded back-to-back playmakers, while Simon scored twice. Chase, Denton and Olson also found the back of the net.
“These guys played for the love of inline,” Meehan said. “The skills are the same as ice, but the strategy is different. Everybody found themselves in different roles. Jason Chase played defense and quarterbacked the team. Max became a real playmaker. along with Turi. Nate and Keith scored a lot of goals and Adam, at forward, scored a lot of goals too.
“This is good practice for ice hockey. It’s faster than ice and requires finesse. What it does is get them better at creating opportunities and executing plays.”
This tournament concludes a successful summer season for this group, which qualified for nationals by winning the Rocky Mountain Regionals. The team also brought home the U-17 Triple Crown national championship two weeks ago in Fort Collins.
Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.