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Huskies start with Colorado Academy

Chris FreudDaily Sports Editor
Preston Utley/putley@vaildaily.comAlex Biegler and Battle Mountain hockey start the playoffs at 5:45 p.m. against Colorado Academy at the Family Sports Center in Denver
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Or, yes, Kent Denver is on Battle Mountain’s side of the bracketEAGLE-VAIL – There is one thing that anyone associated with Battle Mountain hockey undoubtedly noticed when the state playoff bracket came out earlier this week.The Huskies are ranked No. 1. Kent Denver is ranked fifth.As if seemingly preordained, could these two teams be on a crash course for the state semifinals for the fourth consecutive year?Before we ponder this traditional donnybrook, a look at the four regional tournaments this weekend.DenverThe Huskies are headed to the Family Sports Center in Denver, instead of Aspen as expected. Given that it’s a holiday weekend, that’s fine by Huskies coach Andy Hire.”Denver’s good for us,” he said. “It’s short drive compared to Pueblo or Colorado Springs. Playing in Aspen is different. It’s a good rink there, but playing there is kind of a weird feeling sometimes. Denver’s great. They don’t have the hotel issue. Logistically, it’s the best place to play.”The Huskies (19-0) take on Colorado Academy Friday in a 5:45 p.m. matchup. The Mustangs went 2-8 in the Foothills Conference, won by Air Academy, and 6-12 overall. As a No.1-seed against No. 16, Battle Mountain is heavily favored.But Colorado Academy has had some ups and downs in its season.”They are severely unpredictable just from looking at the stats,” Hire said. “From what I saw they lost (12-1) to Peak to Peak and beat Kent Denver (6-5). What that means I have not a clue.”A loss during the regular season, you have a next game. If you lose in the playoffs, you’re going home.”

Pine Creek (12-4-1) and Regis (8-11) battle it out in Friday night’s other game in Denver. Battle Mountain hasn’t seen Pine Creek since the second game of the program’s history in 2001. The Huskies and Regis are very familiar foes, having met in each of the previous three seasons. The Raiders handed Battle Mountain one of its six losses in the program’s history back in December 2002. The Huskies and Regis also had an epic double-overtime quarterfinal game in 2002 with the Huskies winning, 5-4, on a Michael Medina goal. “Pine Creek from what I’ve seen is a good team with great potential,” Hire said. “Maybe, sometimes they bring their game. Sometimes, they don’t, a little lack of consistency. Regis is a team when I saw them play in the Sportsmanship tourney. They’re a team with potential, if they play well together. They’re a big, physical team. Those eight-nine seeds just keep getting better each year.”The winners of Battle Mountain-Colorado Academy and Pine Creek-Regis meet Saturday at 5:30 p.m. The Huskies have advanced to the state semis in each of their three years in CHSAA hockey.PuebloThis is easily the most intriguing regional of the four. Kent is the fifth seed. But before you schedule that Huskies-Sun Devils semi, Kent’s likely going to have to go through No. 4 Cheyenne Mountain.Cheyenne (14-5) starts with Liberty, a surprising No. 13, given the way the Lancers played Battle Mountain this season. Liberty (6-10-2) should give the Indians a game. The same could be said of Kent-Pueblo in the first round. Both are both physical teams and match up well.If the bracket holds to form, you’ve got the best quarterfinal going with Kent and Cheyenne. And despite the tradition of the Huskies and the Sun Devils (10-5-1), Hire likes the Indians.”I think Cheyenne is a lot more skilled hockey team,” he said. “They have an excellent history of being a tournament team. They make the semifinals or the state finals the majority of the time since CHSAA hockey been around. They’re one of those teams that come playoffs take it to a new level and have excelled really well. If I had predict, I’d take Cheyenne.”AspenThis is the cakewalk regional. Host Aspen, champion of the Mountain Conference at 16-3, has the easiest road to the World Arena.The No. 3 Skiers open with Summit (6-11-1). On the other side, is Bishop Machebeuf, a surprising sixth seed, against Steamboat Springs.Battle Mountain pounded Machebeuf (11-6-1) twice. Then there was the great escape against Steamboat (7-10). The Huskies overcame a 3-0 deficit and won on a last-second goal by Austin Chow for a 4-3 win.

“When I did my seeding I put Machebeuf around 14 or 15,” Hire said. “A lot of it is I look at how they played us. They didn’t play well against us. Maybe they have talent, but I don’t think they’re a sixth seed. You never know about Steamboat. You know how they did against us. You can’t count them out.”Colorado Springs The big question in the Springs is No. 7 Peak to Peak (12-7). Will the Boulder boys bring their full crew of AAA players or are the Pumas mailing it in? At the beginning of the season, Peak to Peak was heralded as one of the teams to beat, but AAA defections have made the Pumas quite mortal.Rampart (8-10-1) will be the first to test Peak to Peak.No. 2 Air Academy gets Palmer (7-11-1), and likely will make the semis unless Peak to Peak surprises. Freud’s picksHuskies (1) over Colorado Academy (16)Battle Mountain will have no problems with the Mustangs. Pine Creek may be another story.Pine Creek (8) over Regis (9)Pine Creek has outscored Regis, 19-6, in two games this year. Any questions?Cheyenne Mountain (4) over Liberty (13)This will be a game despite the 4-13 seeding. Cheyenne wins in the third period.Kent Denver (5) over Pueblo (12)



If you like physical hockey, this one’s for you. Kent outhits Pueblo.Aspen (3) over Summit (14)The Tigers should save the gas money.Steamboat Springs (11) over Bishop Machebeuf (6)Machebeuf No. 6? Yeah, and I’m a scratch golfer.Air Academy (2) over Palmer (15)Kadets Klobber the terror-less TerrorsPeak to Peak (7) over Rampart (10)A rematch of the season final – a 3-2 Rampart win. The Pumas, whatever’s left of them, win this time.Freud’s Frozen Four – Huskies, Kent Denver, Aspen and Air AcademySorry, but Battle Mountain and Kent in February is a tradition.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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