Columbine hockey stuns the Chargers

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By Alissa Noe

LITTLETON — Going into the third period on Monday afternoon at Edge Ice Arena, Chatfield was sitting pretty. Then Columbine broke through in the final minutes to stun the Chargers 5-4.

“(The players) kind of said it themselves,” Chatfield coach Geoff Riegle said. “They sat on a lead, and we’re not used to having a lead in a lot of games, so we kind of stopped playing, and it kind of went against us. We’ve just got to play three periods next time.”

The Chargers held the 3-1 advantage going into the final frame, and sophomore goalie Trenton Root’s crease seemed dang near unbreakable.

And it was, until the last five minutes of the game.

Throughout much of the third period, Columbine ramped up its intensity to a level 10 and relentlessly pounded Root with shot after shot.

12:41 into the last 17-minute frame — after the Rebels brought the score to 3-2 earlier in the third — a shot finally broke through for Columbine’s Tanner Sark on assists from Robbie Stasch and James Xu. 3-3.

“To come back from a 3-0 deficit, it’s good to see the boys battle and fight for each other,” Columbine coach Matt McGregor said.

The Rebels didn’t stop there.

Eighteen seconds later, Drew Bauer complemented his teammate’s score with one of his own, aided by Shjon Kern.

With that goal, Columbine looked as though it might run away with the game, but Chatfield’s Hunter Beckett had other ideas.

At 15:04, he retaliated to break even with Columbine at 4 to make things interesting again. But the Rebels wouldn’t go quietly into the night.

When there was just 55 seconds left in the game, Columbine’s Garrison Shepard found his shot from about 10 feet out.

“I was just standing down on the faceoff dot,” Shepard recalled. “I looked up and saw my guy at the point had the puck, had a clear lane to me and then came to me. I just shot it.”

He capitalized and won his team the game.

Despite the outcome, Root’s performance stood out for the Chargers. In fielding 35 shots, he saved 30. By comparison, Columbine’s Keller O’Meara saved just 15.

“The first two periods were pretty good,” Root said. “(Our defenders) did some good shot blocking, but in the third period, they just kind of left me out to dry.”

Throughout much of the contest, Columbine controlled the pace but Chatfield struck early and often. At the midway point of the second period, the Chargers had worked up a 3-0 lead.

In the end, however, it wasn’t enough.