Surprise: Battle Mountain hockey makes the playoffs
Huskies face Kent Denver on Wednesday
The reports of Battle Mountain hockey’s death are greatly exaggerated.
After probably spending all of Friday hitting the refresh button on his computer to see if Battle Mountain would appear in the four-team bracket, Huskies hockey coach Derek Byron finally saw the news on his screen.
Not only did Battle Mountain end up snagging the only wild-card spot up for grabs after losing the de facto Mountain Conference championship game on Tuesday to Crested Butte, 5-1, but the Huskies hopped into the No. 3 seed and will face Kent Denver on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland. Crested Butte takes on Cheyenne Mountain in the first semifinal at 5:30 p.m.
Frozen Four, baby.
So, Coach, when you got on the bus in Gunnison to head back to Eagle County after losing to Crested Butte, did you think your team was in the playoffs?
“I did,” Byron said. “I’m pretty confident in our team. People have recognized the coaches’ poll. I was pretty confident that we would get to play again.”
First of all, Lord Byron is a much more confident guy than the rest of us. After giving the team the day off Wednesday after Tuesday’s game. the coach called a practice on Thursday even though a next game wasn’t guaranteed.
We figured the Huskies were toast. We are delighted to be wrong.
The reasons everyone wasn’t as confident as the coach was that Battle Mountain was sixth in the rating-percentage index, fourth in the maxpreps.com figures and fourth in the Chsaanow.com Poll, aka the coaches’ poll.
Even more worrisome was that the three conference champions — Mountan, North and South — were guaranteed spots and both Kent Denver and Mullen were ahead of Battle Mountain in RPI. Would one team win the North (Kent) and the other (Mullen) take the wild card?
Let’s face it: Mountain Conference/Western Slope teams often get the short end of the stick when it comes to formulas and rankings. Even though the Huskies (9-2-1) were tied for second in Class 4A in wins with nine with Kent, it still felt dicey.
So it will be the Huskies and Kent Denver for a spot in the first 4A Colorado state-title game. For the more mature hockey fans in the audience, this is a throwback to the early years of Huskies hockey when Battle Mountain and Kent had a rather vibrant rivalry — a tactful phrase for stronger emotions — in both nonconference play and during the postseason.