Huskies stun Tigers in Vail for semis
VAIL, Colorado ” Summit County hockey may hold the Shrine Pass Trophy, but Battle Mountain is still alive for the biggest prize of them all.
After losing two times to the Tigers during the regular season, Battle Mountain scored twice in the final 2:47 of regulation for a 2-1 win over Summit in Round 2 of the state playoffs Saturday at Dobson Arena to advance to the Frozen Four in Colorado Springs.
Trailing 1-0 with 2:47 to go, Battle Mountain’s Jake Lammert scored a short-handed goal, and Gustav Philipson got the game-winner with 47 seconds remaining, sending the Huskies back to the state semifinals after one-year absence.
Battle Mountain takes on Ralston Valley, 5-1 winners Saturday over Kent Denver, Thursday at 6 p.m. at the World Arena.
“I’m not going to make another birthday at this rate,” Huskies coach Gary Defina joked. “I’ve got kids to raise. I’ve got to be careful.”
While the coach may need to get some cardiac tests ” Battle Mountain cut it close in the first round as well with a 2-1 win Friday against Chatfield ” the Huskies were jubilant.
“It’s amazing,” Lammert said. “Two years ago, it was incredible. This year, it’s going to be even better.”
“It feels good,” said Barrett Chow, who had assists on both of Battle Mountain’s goals. “It’s where we want to be.”
The Tigers were understandably shattered, coming so close to a trip to the Springs.
“It’s tough, a lot of good byes to a huge senior group that I’ve been coaching for six-plus years,” Summit coach Bryan Smith said of the Tigers’ locker room.
“It’s a tough loss,” Tigers senior forward Tommy Moles said. “I love the guys on the team. It’s going to be a shame not playing with them any more.”
No goal and a goal
The Tigers played a physical game and it got Battle Mountain on its heels. Summit’s Scott Noble appeared to score in the second period, but it was waved off.
“That’s pretty bitter with me because the linesman called it from the red line, saying it was kicked in,” Smith said. “It went off the thigh of our player, which isn’t a kick. I’ve been around for 31 years and I don’t kick things with my thigh.”
Maybe it was hockey justice then when the Tigers scored with 12:45 left in the game, breaking a scoreless tie. Battle Mountain goalie Kalen Burnett went behind his net to chase a loose puck. But the puck took a strange bounce off the boards to Noble.
Burnett wasn’t able to get back to the net and Noble slammed it home for a 1-0 lead.
With 3:25 left in the game, Battle Mountain’s Taylor Beairsto took a roughing penalty and was despondent, thinking he had cost his team a chance to win the game.
But so far in the playoffs, being a man down has been a good thing for the Huskies. Beairsto scored the game-winner Friday night against Chatfield while Lammert was in the box.
Saturday night while Beairsto was trying to redecorate the penalty box, Lammert returned the favor, playing a little give-and-go with Chow.
“My thought was that I had to pay Taylor back for what he did for me yesterday,” Lammert said. “So I had to get that one for him.
“I was hoping (Chow) was going to throw it to the front. He did, and I put it five-hole.”
It was nice passing, but it was also a matter of getting traffic in front of Tigers goalie Nick Springer. The Summit keeper made 27 saves in all.
As it seemed that the two teams were going to overtime, Battle Mountain defenseman Connor Tedstrom wound up a shot from the red line. It was a nice low shot and both Ryan Maddux and Chow got their sticks on it.
The puck bounced out to Philipson who pounced on the game-winner with 43 seconds to go.
“I didn’t really see it from the beginning, but Barrett tipped it off his stick and it was right there,” Philipson said. “I had the open net. I could barely stand on my legs after.”
A real rivalry
While one team was going to go home unhappy Saturday night, it’s finally official ” Battle Mountain and Summit have a rivalry at long last on the ice. The Huskies had never lost to the Tigers since the program’s inception in 2001 until this season.
The Tigers ended up handing Battle Mountain (19-2) its only losses of the campaign to date during the regular season, and Saturday’s playoff game will certainly add some spice to future meetings.
“These guys have come so far,” Defina said of the Tigers. “They’ve got a great coaching staff over there. I can’t say enough about those kids. He’s brought them so far. They weren’t very good team three or four years ago. They are there with the best teams in the state.”
“It’s a great rivalry,” Moles said. “We’ve been playing with these guys since we were 10. It’s awesome. We’ve had a great season, but it’s just a shame we couldn’t keep it going and take down to the state championships.”
The Tigers finished the year at 14-7.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or email@example.com.
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