Bantam Grizzlies are kings of the Continental Divide
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
The Glenwood Springs Youth Hockey Association Bantam team were crowned Continental Divide Youth Hockey League champions last weekend.
With only nine skaters and one goaltender, the small team fought hard and became the first team in Glenwood to bring home the championship banner.
The playoffs started on Wednesday on neutral ice in Vail.
Glenwood had to play a qualifying game against No. 1 Summit in order to get the fourth spot in the CDYHL championship tournament.
“The team came together and played with determination and deep passion,” said head coach Tim Howard, whose team held on for a 1-0 win.
Jake Mitchell started things out with an unassisted goal two minutes into the first period.
Mitchell’s fast skating and hard work in the corners was rewarded when he skated out of the corner and tried to stuff the puck past the Summit goalie. The rebound landed on Mitchell’s stick and the second shot went in.
A hard-fought battle ensued, with each team getting opportunities.
Glenwood goaltender Jake Fegan made it impossible for Summit to score by stretching his body for every inch and making numerous acrobatic saves.
In the last three minutes of the game, Summit pulled its goalie and added another skater to the ice, but that did not deter Glenwood’s defense and Fegan. They would not allow a single successful shot on goal.
Fegan stopped 22 shots and claimed his fifth shutout of the season. The win propelled the Grizzlies into the CDYHL championship playoffs.
The Grizzlies next traveled to Steamboat Springs for a three-game set.
Glenwood opened with a 7-1 rout of the Junior Eagles, who hail from the Denver area.
Steele Featherstone began the punishment when Chaz Apostolik intercepted a pass and skated up to the blue line and passed to Featherstone as he escaped two defensemen to score the first goal for the Grizzlies.
The Junior Eagles came back to tie the game at 1 at the end of the first period.
The Grizzlies came alive in the second period.
Tias Dacuma got it started, shooting the puck all the way down to the ice line as Cole Guy put on the burners and chased the puck to the goal line. Though Guy fell and crashed into the boards, he instantly got back up and sent a well-placed pass to Mitchell, who fired a shot past the helpless goaltender from right in front of the net.
Sam Carmer scored an insurance goal on assists from Devin Romero and Roger Gauthier.
Out of desperation, the Junior Eagles changed their goaltender, but that did not stop Glenwood.
Mitchell and Guy teamed up on a goal to make it 4-1. Featherstone and Mitchell then put together a combination in front of the net to add to the Grizzlies’ lead.
Romero contributed to the spanking with a big hit down low and passed to a wide-open Apostolik, who fired a shot in the back of the net.
Featherstone wasn’t done yet, as he scored another goal to post his first hat trick of the season.
“I am very impressed with the new level of play from our team who, by my record, had 46 shots on goal,” Howard said.
Early Saturday morning, the Grizzlies scored a 3-2 win over Vail/Eagle in the second playoff game, vaulting them into the championship game.
Guy began the scoring with a goal from a well-executed pass by Apostolik. The Vail/Eagle team answered back with a goal of their own.
Stingy defensive play from both teams for the rest of the period let to a 1-all tie after one.
It was Vail/Eagle getting the go-ahead goal halfway through.
“I was not too concerned at this point,” Howard said. “We are outplaying them and will get the goal back.”
Sure enough, Guy took control and skated end to end, beating the defense with a quick fake and shot over the goaltender’s leg pad. It was 2-all at the end of the second period.
Apostolik and Gauthier must have found inspiration between periods because it only took them a couple of minutes to get the third goal.
Gauthier won the faceoff and sent the puck straight back to Apostolik, who shot it straight into the net.
The Grizzlies knew they needed just one more victory. Early Sunday morning, they faced Vail/Eagle again and got it. Scoring a first-period goal to jump ahead early, Glenwood skated to a 3-0 win.
“This was game five for the Vail/Eagle team and game three for us. They have some very strong skaters, but they must be getting tired,” Howard said before the game. “That’s why we are going to play them hard right from the beginning.”
Throughout most of the first period, it was scoreless. Dacuma eventually broke through, skating the puck into the offensive zone, where Gauthier picked it up and moved closer to the goal. Dacuma kept up his speed and shot a pass from Gauthier right between the goaltender’s leg pads.
“That’s the momentum we need,” Howard said between periods.
Then, 27 seconds into the second period, Guy gained control of the puck in the corner and worked his way through two defensemen to give the pass to Featherstone. The pass pulled the Vail/Eagle defensemen away from Mitchell, who received the pass from Featherstone and shot the puck into the goal.
Then, Dacuma decided he was going to have the game of his life and turned it on by rushing the puck up the ice every chance he got. Four minutes later, with Gauthier won a faceoff drop clean and sent the puck to Apostolik, who found the back of the net.
Ian Rothman played his best game of the season, with aggressive checking throughout the entire game, helping Glenwood to victory.
Fegan stopped all 16 shots he faced for his sixth shutout of the season.
“Once again, thank you to the fans and parents for your support and encouragement,” Howard said.
Up next for the Grizzlies is a trip to the state playoffs this weekend at The Edge Ice Arena in Denver.
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