Grizzlies pick up five banners in CDYHL playoffs
The Glenwood Grizzlies youth hockey program wrapped up a tremendous season in recent weeks by claiming a program-record five league banners in the Continental Divide Youth Hockey League playoffs. The Bantam A team won its second straight league championship, while the Midget Major A, Bantam B, Squirt B and Squirt C Black teams all finished second overall in the CDYHL league playoffs, giving the Grizzlies the record.
Along with the five banner-winning teams, the Squirt C Purple team finished third overall in the league playoffs, giving the Glenwood program an astounding six total teams in the top three of each league. Not bad for a mountain town program that continues to build a strong foundation in the valley.
“What a fantastic season, earning five banners in one season is an unbelievable achievement for our association,” Grizzly Executive Director T.K. Kwiatkowski said. “I am so proud of our players, coaches, staff and parents for their dedication throughout the season. Beyond league playoffs, our Pee Wee B team, which was ineligible for playoffs due to league rules, and our Squirt C team, a composite team made up from both our Squirt C teams, have already punched their ticket into the semi-final round this coming weekend. Our Midget Major A team will also compete at the 18U CAHA Cup state tournament as the defending champions with hopes of consecutive titles.”
Starting with the Bantam A team, the Grizzlies rolled through the league playoffs, finishing 3-0 by defeating Aspen (3-0) and West Elk (5-1) before knocking off Vail Mountain (6-1) in the championship game.
Against Vail, Kobe Ottosen, Luke Grimaldi and Hunter Lohse all found the back of the net in the second period to stake the Grizzlies to a 3-0 lead after one period of play before Max Mencimer scored twice in the third period to make it 5-1. Grimaldi would add his second goal late in the final period to cap off the 6-1 win, giving Glenwood the league championship on home ice at the Glenwood Ice Rink.
In net, Daelen Renzi stopped 7 of 8 shots in the win, backstopping Glenwood all weekend long to the championship.
With the second straight league championship in hand, the Bantam A team turned to the Bantam B team, which was in the midst of a championship run themselves.
The Bantam B team would start out the playoffs by winning the first game against West Elk, 2-0, but in game two the Grizzlies would fall to Vail Mountain, 5-1. Looking to bounce back in game three to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Grizzlies would top West Elk, 4-2. Jack Kearssy scored two goals for Glenwood, while Tomas Bensch and Connor Powell added one goal each to power the Grizzlies to victory.
But in the championship game against Vail, the Grizzlies would come up short for a second straight season to finish as the runner-up, falling by a score of 6-0 to wrap up a strong season.
The Midget Major A team also finished as runner-up as the Grizzlies dropped the final game of the season, 5-1, to Hyland Hills as Lucca Trapani scored the lone goal for the Grizzlies, which came shorthanded on an assist from Alec Sloan.
In the Squirt B league playoffs, the Grizzlies were able to bounce back from a tough 8-1 loss to Telluride early in the tournament to battle into second place by knocking off that same Telluride team later in the tournament, 2-1. Jacob Barlow and Ryan Moskov found the back of the net in the first period to stake Glenwood to a 2-0 lead. Marek Senn would stop 21 of 22 shots to hold off Telluride for the win.
In the championship game of the Squirt B playoffs, Glenwood would fall to Vail, 8-0, but that wouldn’t dampen the outlook of the season for the improving Glenwood club.
“What the coaches are most pleased about this team is that they developed steadily throughout the season and in their last half dozen games, including the playoffs,” Squirt B Head Coach Ham Tharp said. “They seemed to find the magic that is hockey when each player focuses on working hard to make things happen for everybody. They exceeded expectations in the playoffs and will start their spring and summer sports on a nice high note.”
Along with the Squirt B team, the Squirt C Black team would take a similar path as the B team, dropping the first game of the tournament to Telluride, 7-3, before rallying in the consolation bracket to reach the championship game, where the Squirt C Black team would fall to Telluride again, but this time by a score of 2-1 to finish as league runner-up.
In fact, the Squirt C Black team knocked off the Squirt C Purple team to reach the championship game, pushing the purple team into third place for Glenwood. In that all-Glenwood matchup, Jace Olson would score a hat trick for the black team, while Jacob Roggie and Lucas Chartier would score two goals each for the purple team.
“Everyone loves the underdog story, and this was one for the ages,” Squirt C Black Head Coach Bryce Olson said. “We have the youngest team in the league by a landslide margin, so what they accomplished on the ice against kids two years older was more than just commendable; it was inspirational. I’m so proud of them that I get choked up just talking about it. I think this team surprised us all.”
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Amid hundreds of cleat-footed little leaguers casually gathered along the first baseline, the glare of parents’ sunglasses deflecting the early morning sun, coach Troy Phillips began a trip down memory lane.