Conference title to defend
by Than Acuff
With several players taking part in a fall hockey club season and others staying fit from other sports during the fall, the Crested Butte Titans hockey team has hit the ice, and ground, at full tilt the past two weeks. And it’s a good thing, as they have some big skates to fill this upcoming 2019/2020 season.
Last year, the Titans won the Peak Conference title, finishing the regular season with a record of 13-5-1. They entered the post-season the 13th seed and won their first round game over Palmer but fell in the second round to the fourth seeded team to be eliminated from the post-season.
“We came together as a team over the season,” says senior defenseman Chris Myers. “I played with a lot of those guys since we were four years old so we had lots of chemistry—everyone knew where everyone else was on the ice and we were able to run plays really well toward the end.”
That team lost 10 seniors, though and so there are some holes to fill as they prepare for the upcoming season. Still, they do have seven seniors this year, including goaltender Shaughn Rourke, and a refreshed energy to the relatively young team of players 20-strong.
“We have kids who are dedicated and hard workers,” says Myers.
Good thing too, as it appears that head coach Billy Watson has the team working hard during pre-season with a mix of fitness on and off the ice.
“We have been skating hard and working really hard to get the fitness up,” says Myers. “We’re now starting to work in our systems carrying over a lot of the same systems from last year.”
The team’s first focus is this weekend as they open the season at home when they host Steamboat Springs in Gunnison on Friday at 4 p.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m.
“We are relearning things and getting plays dialed in so we know what we are doing when Friday comes,” says Myers.
Myers adds that while the over-arching philosophy of the season remains, taking it one game at a time, there are a couple of underlying goals among the players.
“Everyone is thinking about winning the conference again this year and going further than any other Titans team has in the playoffs,” says Myers. “Definitely seeing a lot more commitment this year and we feel prepared physically and fitness wise.”