Midget AA’s open with tourney win
With 24 Midget-level players this season in the Vail Junior Hockey Association, the organization is splitting up its crew during tournament season and combining with Summit County. The result is that the artists formerly known as the Vail Mountaineers, now known as High Country Rangers, suit up just 15 or so players per game on both the AA and A level.
“What we’ve tried to do is put the kids in a situation where they’re going to succeed,” Midget Major AA assistant Jade Kersey said. “There is a discrepancy in the skill in our group and there’s such a huge range in age. This way, we have an opportunity to work with the younger kids and get everyone ice time.”
The Vail Midget Major AA’s seemed to like the extra ice time last weekend at the Arapahoe Early Bird Tournament, going 4-0 and picking up the the title.
“The guys played really hard,” said Kersey, who coached the team along with head coach Eric Licktieg. “We have guys from Summit and Vail and everybody stepped right in, going in the same direction. We still have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but it’s a nice start, no question.”
Keith Denton broke the seal on 2002-03 with a first-period goal in a 4-0 blanking of Hyland Hills. P.J. Bevan made it 2-0 and Austin Chow scored the final two goals.
Chow was just getting started, though. In the next game against Arvada, the sophomore had a hat trick. Two from Max Miller and goals from Jason Chase and Bevan added up to a 7-1 win.
The Rangers wrapped up pool play with a 5-1 victory over Colorado Springs. Alex Biegler and Michael Medina both scored twice, while Chow lit the lamp again.
In the title game against host Arapahoe, High Country won a wild 9-6 affair. Denton, doing a nice job moving back to defense, and Chow both had hat tricks. Biegler, Miller and Medina also scored.
Summit’s Rick Odria and Vail’s Eric Hansen split the goaltending duties, each going 2-0.
Under new USA Hockey rules, the High Country Rangers are classified at a Major Midget AA team. The distinction between Major and Minor is based on the players’ year of birth – 1984 and 1985 for Major and 1986 and 1987 for Minor. If one player on the team is born in 1984 or 1985, the team must be classified as a Midget Major AA team.
The Arapahoe Early Bird Tournament was a Midget Minor tournament, but with a good portion of the Rangers just having turned Major-level age, the opening tournament was a good competition to start the season.
The Rangers will get their first test against Major competition at Fort Collins in a tournament slated for Oct. 11-13.
Ice Chips: Kersey, who is also Battle Mountain hockey’s head coach, did not coach or have contact with the Major Midget AA’s on Sunday, in compliance with Colorado High School Activities Association rules. … Kersey will be the head coach of the Minor Midget A’s, who have a scrimmage at Dobson Saturday. The A’s first tournament of the year is at the Aspen Fall Faceoff Oct. 25-27. … Both teams will compete at the Vail Sportsmanship Tournament during the first weekend in November. … The Vail Daily is always on the lookout for parents taking pictures at road games. Action shots are gladly accepted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or in person at our office in Eagle-Vail across the street from Paddy’s.