Brian Vits knew just how big of a game Chatfield had coming up against rival Columbine on Feb. 8 at the Edge Ice Arena that he took a nap beforehand. The extra rest helped.
Vits’ second hat trick of the season and two goals from Tyler Seltenreich were part of a six-goal outburst from Chatfield in a 6-1 victory over the Rebels.
“It was a big game. We needed this win to make the playoffs. If we didn’t we would’ve lost out. All day at school today I was preparing,” Vits said.
Chatfield (7-9-1, nine points Foothills Conference), which got a third-period goal from Aaron Thompson, hasn’t made the playoffs yet, but the back-to-back state semifinalist at least kept itself in contention with the victory.
The Chargers, who have road games remaining at Kent Denver on Feb. 13 and at Monarch two days later, are one of seven teams with a chance at one of the conference’s final two playoff berths. The top eight teams make it into the 16-team state tournament. With two wins Chatfield is in no matter what, but the Chargers could get in with a win and some help.
“This was a big game to play Columbine, our rivals. We need to win every game from here on out to get in the playoffs,” Seltenreich said.
Chatfield had an opportunity to increase its postseason hopes one night later, but stumbled 3-1 to Dakota Ridge. Against the Rebels, however, Chatfield played as good as it has all season, scoring twice shorthanded. Goalkeeper Ryan Seltenreich finished with 31 saves.
Columbine took an early 1-0 lead on an Andy Wright goal just 6 minutes, 28 seconds in before Chatfield scored six unanswered goals.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be a 1-0 game from the very start. A couple of little mistakes in the beginning and then we’re playing uphill the rest of the game. We weren’t really expecting it to go that way, but that’s just the way it kind of went tonight for us,” Columbine head coach Chris Gassman said.
Starting goalkeeper Charlie Marchese was pulled minutes after Thompson’s goal and replaced by Ashton Opperman.
The loss was the Rebels’ fourth straight to cap a 5-14 season. But considering those losses came against playoff contenders Mountain Vista, Monarch, Mullen and Chatfield and the simple fact that the Rebels, who end up with 10 league points, finished last in the Foothills Conference in 2011-12 there is reason for hope, Gassman said.
“The outcome wasn’t what we wanted, but I don’t think you could ask for a better opportunity. Rival schools, a chance to make the playoffs. From where this program was last year finishing almost dead last to a chance at the playoffs this year we couldn’t be more proud of the team we have in the locker room,” Gassman said.
Contact Michael Hicks at email@example.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.