The Tigers Bantam A Black team concluded a remarkable season with a heart pounding 1-0 victory over Summit to claim the 14U A Colorado State Championship on Sunday March 10th.
The Tigers opened the round robin portion of the state tourney with a 7-2 beat down of league rival Boulder Black. Defenseman Joe Mills opened the scoring just 19 seconds in to the game and fellow defenseman Gavin Costa doubled the Tiger lead with a “bomb” from the point later in the period. Boulder cut the lead in half before scoring machine Gabe Denio took over the game. Denio scored 4 goals – 2 in the 2ndperiod and 2 more in the 3rdto secure the victory. Smooth skating d-man Sean Melnyk went coast to coast to account for the other Tiger goal while sturdy forward Sam Culp added 2 assists.
Saturday morning saw the Tigers battle a determined Littleton Red team to a 2-2 draw. The game was scoreless until Kaden Ochsendorf made a nifty move behind the net and stuffed the puck past the Littleton goalie. The Tigers pushed their lead to 2-0 in the 3rdwhen defenseman Rylan Cirulli’s wrist shot didn’t go over the goal but found the back of the net. Slick center Easton St. Pierre and skilled defenseman Adam Gryboski picked up assists on the goal. Littleton then scored twice later in the 3rdto tie the game. The Tigers took a late penalty but tenacious Philip Bramble led a successful penalty kill and goaltender Devin Peck slammed the door shut with a series of big time saves to preserve the tie and pick up a crucial point in the standings.
On Saturday night, the Tigers took on the top ranked team from Summit and despite applying heavy pressure on the Summit goal throughout the game, the Tigers lost 2-1. Summit took an early lead on a breakaway goal before the teams settled in to a physical contest. Abbi Komrofske was particularly aggressive and delivered several bone crunching body checks, including one monster hit on a Summit defenseman. Goaltender Jeth Fogg and his Summit counterpart continued to match saves until another Summit breakaway goal made the score 2-0 after 2 periods. The Tigers increased their offensive pressure as Kenny Bagley and CJ Reid continued to attack the Summit goalie. After pulling goalie Fogg, the Tigers finally cashed in when Ochsendorf banged in a pass from close range. Despite several more chances, the Tigers couldn’t score but thanks to winning the tiebreakers in the standings, the team knew they would have a rematch with Summit in the state final.
Sunday’s morning’s state title game was held at the Pepsi Center and both teams came out flying. Neither team could find the back of the net until the midway through the 2ndperiod. Centerman Matty Kelleher won a key faceoff to Ochsendorf who fired a shot on goal. Winger Hank Walsh crashed the net and managed to slip the rebound in to the goal for what would turn out to be the state championship winning goal. Goaltenders Peck and Fogg formed a brick wall in goal, combining to shut out Summit and secure the title.
Head Coach Justin Ochsendorf and assistant coaches Tim Denio, Andy Gibson and Pat Kelleher led the Tigers through an incredible season. The Tigers won 41 games and went undefeated in CCYHL regular season play. They won the Salute To Veteran’s tournament as well as the Silver Stick tournament and represented Colorado at the International Silver Stick Championships in Port Huron, Michigan. The team reached the championship game of all 6 tournaments they participated in this season. The state championship on the Pepsi Center ice was a a testament to the dedication, commitment and work ethic of every player on the team.