“It’s something you get once in a coaching lifetime”
About the only thing holding up the Crested Butte high school hockey team, the Wolfpack, is lack of ice. Yet even that doesn’t seem to be slowing them down as they prepare for the upcoming season.
Last year, they finished with a 14-4-1 record. They took second place in the league but had their season cut short when they lost to Oak Creek in the opening round of the divisional playoffs.
Still, it was a solid season considering the Wolfpack’s roster.
“It was a surprisingly good year based upon our lack of upperclassman,” says head coach Phil Martin, who is joined once again by assistant Chris Wederitch on the bench.
In an effort to get ice time this fall, the Wolfpack hit the road traveling to Telluride and Grand Junction for practices and three pre-season scrimmages during November. The Wolfpack returned from their two road trips 3-0, including two wins over a Grand Junction squad that skates all year.
It turns out what the team may be lacking in ice, they more than make up for in experience.
This year, every single player from last year’s team returns, plus a surge of youth from the Bantam squad.
“We’ve got pretty much our whole team (from last year) plus guys coming up from the Bantams, which will help tremendously,” says Martin. “To not lose anyone is incredible. It’s something you get once in a coaching lifetime.”
Senior John Tharp, the team’s leading scorer last year says, “We’re looking good. We didn’t lose anybody and we’ve got some strong young kids.”
Leading the offense will be Tharp and junior Robbie Holleran. The two players were a scoring force last year, working on the same line, with Tharp averaging 2.5 goals per game and Holleran tallying 2.5 assists per game.
Seniors Nick Gainous and Quinn Langsfeld lead the defense. Sophomore Zach Van Dyke is back in net, a goalie who Martin believes sets the Wolfpack above their opponents before the drop of the puck.
“We go into any game up on any other team because of our goaltending,” says Martin. “We probably have the best goaltender in the league.”
The future looks bright for the Wolfpack this season and Martin hopes they can capitalize on their experience and talent.
“We’re coming into the season with one of the best hockey team this valley’s ever seen,” says Martin.
“The state tournament is what we’re looking for,” adds Tharp.
The Wolfpack heads to Steamboat Springs for a pre-season tournament Friday through Sunday, November 30 through December 1. League play for the Wolfpack starts on Saturday, December 22 in Telluride and their first home game is on Friday, January 11 against the Gunnison Blades.