The quest goes on for Huskies hockey
VAIL – Battle Mountain senior Evan Sherer has three of them. The rest of Battle Mountain hockey wants just one.Sherer, a transfer from Taos High School, has three New Mexico state championships under his belt.”Our team won state the last three times I was there,” Sherer said. “I kind of wanted a challenge and I’ve been friends with all these guys (at Battle Mountain). I just thought, ‘Why not do it?’ I’ve been through it three times and a 2-1 overtime game, winning the state championship.”Sound familiar, Huskies fans?There is no doubt that Huskies hockey is the premiere program in Battle Mountain athletics. There is also no doubt that Huskies hockey has endured more hardship that a lot of the school’s programs.When last we left Battle Mountain hockey, it was in the bowels of World Arena in Colorado Springs where the aching silence was only broken by tears after a 4-3 semifinal loss to Kent Denver.The Huskies have been to the finals once losing to Cheyenne Mountain in double overtime and the semis twice, losing both times to Kent.The goal this year is to be on the right end of Sherer’s 2-1 overtime win for a state title.
“That’s No. 1 on everybody’s list and I don’t think anyone wants to settle for anything less,” senior Austin Chow said. “Time to get it done.”A new castTake a moment right now – senior Austin Chow.It wasn’t too long ago that some in the Battle Mountain community were complaining, asking, “Why is this freshman on a varsity hockey team?” They aren’t asking anymore. Three years goal-scoring rampaging and copious all-state honors will take care of that.Now, Chow is also taking a leadership role. He, along with fellow seniors Brad Myers and Alex Biegler will wear the C for the captaincy, something Chow has long coveted. It should be noted that this is the first time Chow, likely the school’s valedictorian come May, has gotten a C in anything.While four of the five seniors on the team – Chow, Biegler, Myers and Karl Eklund are familiar faces – transfer Sherer being the fifth, this is a new brand of Huskies hockey. All told, Battle Mountain lost 11 seniors to graduation.”It’s definitely a little bit weird, especially last weekend,” Chow said, referring to the bus ride to Steamboat for last weekend’s King of the Mountain Tournament. “You could definitely notice it on the bus. It’s not the guys I’ve been there with for three years, without P.J. (Bevan) Keith (Denton), Nate (Simon), Jason (Chase), all those guys. It’s definitely different, but it’s time to step up.”At forward, new coach Andy Hire has Biegler, Chow and Sherer on the first line. Next to roll in are Casey Kleisinger, Myers and Derek Byron. Chow, Barrett that is, Chris Chase and Kyle Woods make up the third. For trivia buffs, this is the first time the Chow brothers have played on the same team.
Also look for Kodi Wyatt and Jason funk to see some playing time up front.Defensively, Andreas Apostal and Coulter Somes head up the blueline. Pair No. 2 is Jonathan and MacKenzie Stevens. The Matts – Garth and Heelan – round out the defense.In net, Eklund returns and he’ll likely get most of the playing time with Foster Fox serving as the backup.X’s and O’sOn offense, there’s no question, despite graduation losses, that the Huskies will score. The first line is explosive with Austin Chow. Biegler and Chow have played together for years and Sherer showed his offensive prowess at the Sportsmanship Tournament and at the King of the Mountain.The only concern is that teams around the state are know Chow is coming.”That’s why I’m real happy with our second line,” Hire said. “People will match up with our first line, but they still have to compete with our second line with Casey’s hands and Brad’s speed and Derek using his physical presence. That’s a great line in itself. Just because you stop our first line doesn’t mean you’re good for the game.”
And for critical defensive situations, Hire can call on the third line of younger Chow, Chase and Woods.Speaking of defense, this is an area of concern for Battle Mountain. The Huskies weren’t deep in blueliners last year and now former captain, P.J. Bevan, who often double-shifted, is at college. Apostal, Somes, the Stevenses and the Matts are going to need to grow up quickly. Hire points to the King of the Mountain as evidence that this pack can do it.”They’ve been playing real well so far. They’re filling some big shoes,” he said. “Our defense did a really good job this weekend. I was kind of unsure at first. They stepped up and did a great job. We have great hopes for the future for these guys.”Those guys on defense are very defensively sound. They’re not offensive defensemen which makes it easier to teach them. We’re not looking for them to score goals this year. We have enough of that up front.”The last line of defense is Eklund. Hire says the key for his netminder is confidence.”Karl’s going to be the man this year and he’s going to be up to the challenge,” Hire said. “I’ve talked to him several times and he’s really excited.”Good start
The Huskies started their season with a bang, rolling to a tournament win in Steamboat last weekend. Battle Mountain whipped up on Summit, 8-1, behind a hat trick from Myers, two from Austin Chow and one each from Byron, Barrett Chow and Biegler.Aspen beat host, Steamboat, in Round 1, but the Huskies doubled up the Skiers, 4-2, in the title game. Elder Chow had two, as did Biegler.The schedule gets stiffer in the next two weekends. It’s at Cheyenne and at Liberty, Friday and Saturday, respectively. The next weekend is home for Liberty and Kent. With all due respect to Liberty and Air Academy, two quality squads, the Huskies want Cheyenne and Kent in the worst way.”I definitely have it in for both of them,” Chow said. “I mean, Cheyenne served us a big loss in (double) OT for the state championship that first year. That was definitely tough to eat. We haven’t seen them since. We definitely are getting ready for that game. Kent is always huge. We’ve seen them in the semifinals the last three years.”Ice chipsBattle Mountain is the favored to win the Metro Conference for the third straight year. The Huskies’ competition should be Liberty, Bishop Machebeuf and Pueblo. … Summit joins the Metro this year, so the Huskies and Tigers will tangle two more times. “Compared to the rest of the conferences, (the Metro) isn’t as strong,” Hire said “But, being a new coach in the league, I have no expectations for any team. We’re going to approach every team like it’s Kent Denver or Cheyenne. Battle Mountain’s always been such a strong program that every team is going to have their best game for us.” … Battle Mountain is ranked No. 3 by the Rocky Mountain News and No. 5 by the Denver Post.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614 or firstname.lastname@example.org.