Although the winter sports season has just gotten underway, the Dec. 4 hockey game between rivals Columbine and Chatfield carried a playoff atmosphere to it.
The stands at the Edge Ice Arena were full of loud, boisterous fans on both sides. And, the action on the ice was hard-hitting and packed with intensity.
In the end, the Chargers stepped off the ice with a 4-2 victory, thanks to three goals in the third period.
“We’ve never lost to Columbine, so that was important to us to keep that streak going,” said Chatfield’s Trevor Knoll, who scored Chatfield’s final two goals, including the game-winner with four minutes to play. “It was a lot of fun playing this game. Seeing the stands full of people, it definitely motivates you to play better.”
With the game deadlocked at 1-1 after two periods of play, Chatfield finally kicked things into gear offensively in the third, thanks to a pair of power-play opportunities. After a scramble in front of the Columbine goal, Chatfield forward Blake Speechley batted the puck into the net to give the Chargers a 2-1 lead.
Another power-play opportunity for the Chargers helped them push their margin to two goals. Jack Krowl blasted a slapshot from the blue line and the rebound bounced right onto the stick of Knoll, who quickly wristed a shot past Columbine goalie, Mike McCuaig.
“I know (McCuaig) from playing together in club,” Speechley said. “We knew if we kept peppering him with shots he’d get tired and that’s what happened.”
The Rebels didn’t go down quietly as Joe Valbert scored with 37 seconds to play to draw Columbine within a goal once again, but Knoll sealed the deal with an empty-net goal in the waning seconds.
“It was classic Columbine-Chatfield,” Chatfield coach Bradd Marksuch said. “The kids were on nerves all week long for the game but they were still ready to go and focused on what they had to do.”
New Columbine coach, Justin Depretis, was proud of the way his team fought — for most of the game.
“They played their butts off for 35 minutes but then fell apart the last 10,” Depretis said. “I think they got a little tired.”
Still, the overall effort (especially of McCuaig, who largely kept the Rebels in the game the first two periods) pleased the new coach.
“It was good to see how they played in an actual game and I am really impressed,” Depretis said. “We had a chance to win the game. It’s a learning process and I think the kids will continue to improve as the season goes on.”
Columbine grabbed a quick 1-0 lead as Ty Shirley slammed home a one-timer off an assist from Patrick Atkinson just 1:11 into the game.
Chatfield answered back with a one-timer of its own as Speechley fed Dan Linden in front for the game-tying goal.
McCuaig finished the game with 29 saves for the Rebels and Chatfield goalie Matt Smith stopped 18 shots.