“It was the best season I could have hoped for”
As is often the case with local high school age sports, once a Crested Butte team makes it to the big show, they find out there’s an entirely different world out there.
The Crested Butte Wolfpack hockey team had a fantastic regular season. After finishing 14-2, the Wolfpack had an amazing post-season run with five wins in a row, including the Rocky Mountain Youth Hockey League title.
The success led them to the state tournament with three other teams, Boulder, Pueblo and the Colorado Junior Eagles. They are bigger teams with larger talent pools to draw from and longer seasons.
Those facts became glaringly clear on Saturday, March 1 as the Wolfpack’s post-season run ended in a 9-3 loss to Boulder in the state tournament semi-final game.
The game started with Boulder in charge from the opening face-off, but the Wolfpack held on with goalie Zach Van Dyke turning away many of the 43 shots he faced that night.
Boulder took a 1-0 lead into the second period but the Wolfpack evened the score when Mo Gillie beat two players and scored to tie the game a minute into the second period.
The goal stunned Boulder and inspired the Wolfpack to shine for a brief stint following the goal.
Once Boulder regained its composure, they netted three goals in the second period to take a 4-1 lead into the third period.
Two quick goals by Boulder set the Wolfpack back 6-1 but two penalties against Boulder opened a seam for the Wolfpack to climb through.
The Wolfpack took advantage of their power plays as John Tharp scored in the sixth minute off an assist from Quinn Langsfeld. Thirty seconds later, Tharp scored again off an assist from Robbie Holleran to pull within three goals with five minutes left in the game.
Unfortunately, the well ran dry for the Wolfpack as Boulder capitalized on three more chances to come away with the 9-3 win.
“Zach played outstanding to keep it at nine goals,” says coach Phil Martin. “We didn’t have that many chances but we did net three goals. It was just a faster pace of hockey than we’re used to. They were good—it was incredible.”
“It’s definitely higher-caliber hockey,” adds Wolfpack captain and senior Quinn Langsfeld. “I was really happy with how well we played against them.”
Langsfeld has been playing hockey locally since the first grade and is ecstatic about closing his career with a successful season and a showing at the state level.
“It was the best season I could have hoped for,” says Langsfeld. “I never thought I’d make it as far as we did in my hockey career. Winning the league tournament made my senior year that much better. It was more than I could have asked for.”
Looking back on the season, Langsfeld points out two specific highlights.
“When Sam Evans jumped three feet in the air to keep the puck in the zone so we could win in overtime against Craig,” explains Langsfeld. “For me it was when I scored my first Wolfpack goal on a shot from the blue line and banked it off the goalie’s head.”
Martin is satisfied with what the team accomplished this year as well and looks forward to next year, with plans for improvement already in the works.
“Winning the league championship is just great for us,” says Martin. “It was just good to go up there (to state). We have to take steps forward from here. When we get back up there, we’ll know what to expect.”