Stevens leads Huskies hockey awards
EAGLE-VAIL ” It wasn’t the ending the Battle Mountain hockey team was looking for, but it was a good ending nonetheless.
Despite a first-round playoff exit, the Huskies put three on the all-state rolls with Jonny Stevens earning a spot on the all-state second team, while Andreas Apostal and Barrett Chow picked up all-state honorable mentions.
“It’s cool,” Stevens said. “The season definitely didn’t end up how we wanted it to be. It’s cool that Barrett and Andreas and I got recognized for the work we put it this season.”
“I think it’s good,” Huskies coach Gary Defina said. “We didn’t have any guys with huge numbers, but the coaches around the state realized how strong these guys were.”
Defina brings up an interesting point. Battle Mountain hockey is traditionally recognized for its offensive players, yet this year’s honorees consist of two blueliners (Stevens and Apostal) and one forward (Chow).
Stevens is no stranger to an all-state team. He’s been all-state twice in cross country and this is his second appearance in hockey.
The junior was a two-way defenseman with physical play in his own end and a booming shot from the point.
He racked up two goals and 14 assists in his third varsity season on ice.
“Obviously, everybody knows what an athlete he is,” Defina said. “He is the anchor and we lean on him a lot. He’s going to be huge next year.”
But before next winter, Stevens has a lot on his plate. The track team will be leaning on Stevens, who holds the school record in the 1,600 meters and the 3,200, not to mention being a part of the 3,200-relay team whose time is up on the wall in the gym in Eagle-Vail. There’s also that little matter of helping the cross country team defend its state title come fall.
Who needs numbers?
Apostal’s numbers aren’t big. The senior had a goal and four helpers this year. But opposing coaches do tend to remember the hits he laid out all year.
“He is a quiet kid who doesn’t say a lot,” Defina said. “He just works hard. He’s like a Joe Sakic that way. He’s a big hitter who doesn’t get a lot of points. All-star teams are often picked by points (scored), so it’s good to see the coaches recognize him.”
Apostal’s teammates certainly recognized his leadership, be it in practice or games.
“He’s just such a strong guy. That carries over to everyone else on the ice,” Stevens said. “If Andreas were slacking off in the corners during practice, then it would be a different atmosphere on the ice. He’s just a horse.”
Chow finished the year as the Huskies’ top scorer with nine goals and 12 assists.
A junior, he has the impossible task of following his bother, Austin, yet Barrett established his own identity this season with big goals against rivals Kent Denver and Aspen, among others.
“It feels good to know that I’m starting to move my way up and get noticed,” Chow said.
“He was key in all areas,” Defina said. “He was first on the penalty kill. He was critical on faceoffs. It’s pretty big to lead your team in scoring, but he also did the little things.”
An early exit from the playoffs combined with Aspen winning the state title has the Huskies talking about next year already.
“This program expects to win,” Defina said “The standard has been set by the teams that have gone before them. The guys aren’t happy unless they win the whole thing. They were devastated after the loss (to Standley Lake in the playoffs).”
Defina pointed to the champion Skiers, who were senior-led, as an example for what his team may be like next season. He started to tick off the names of soon-to-be seniors like Stevens, Chow, Kodi Wyatt, McKenzie Stevens, Sam Sterling and Jake Lammert among others.
“We still have a lot of guys coming back,” Stevens said. “We all know what we could have done better this season. We all know what we need to do next year. … We want to go out with a bang.”
Wyatt led the Huskies with 14 goals, while Ryan Maddux had 13. … CHSAA hockey will stay at 24 teams for 2007-08, but look for more Front Range schools to jump into the fray the following season. … CHSAA has extended the season by a week for next year. The first set of the playoffs will be pushed back to Presidents Day weekend with the finals on March 1. … Speaking of those playoffs, Dobson Arena will be a site for the first two rounds of the playoffs next February. The last time the playoffs were in Vail in 2004, Battle Mountain ended up hosting the first two rounds and rolled to the semifinals.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or email@example.com.
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