~ by Trevor Phipps ~
Back when I was a kid… We played hockey on the frozen lake of memorial.
Then, I remember the local kids playing at a rink at the park on Valley View Drive. And then they started playing on a rink out in Meadow Wood Park. Since then, the Meadow Wood Sports Complex expanded their hockey complex into a viable ring that has brought kids from various parts of the Ute Pass region to cut the ice with hockey clubs in hand.
The youth hockey league participation, along with the involvement of recreational hockey lovers, has brought about the first ever Woodland Park High School Hockey team. Yes, yes it is true! Our almost always frozen mountain town finally has its very own high school hockey team. For those who don’t realize how much of a big deal this really is, back when I was a youngster in high school, my hockey playing friends would either go to a different school at fourteen or would play in a competitive league in other areas of Colorado.
Last Thursday November 30, the Woodland Park High School Hockey team played its first game, thus setting WPHS hockey records. The Woodland Park Mayor’s son Lou Levy made the first score as a Woodland Park Panther on the ice. Colton Hudson was credited with the Panthers’ first ever assist. The high school junior Bobby Costello set the record bars high with a whopping 46 saves to start the Panthers’ inaugural season!
The team did still lose by a score of 9-1, but these tough boys are literally playing out of their league. According to WPHS hockey coach Chad Mason, Woodland Park is a 3A school playing nothing but 5A teams. Colorado currently only has a 5A hockey league, so the Panther boys get thrown right into the middle of Colorado’s best of the best when it comes to hockey.
According to Coach Mason, the first four games for the Panther hockey team are going to be the toughest ones. The team plays super tough hockey teams in Denver that pay their hockey coaches’ six figures a year and have kids of Colorado Avalanche Players and coaches. The Panthers also play Pueblo County that consists of three high schools put into one team.
“I am very proud of how our team played in their first game,” said WPHS hockey coach Chad Mason. He is very confident in his new team and thinks his boys have great potential. “I think once we get past the tough first four games, that we will be very competitive in our league,” Mason commented. He thought that the brand new high school team stuck with the tough Denver team very well but that the team got beat up due to hurt players towards the end of the game.
The team plays a total of 18 games with sixteen being conference games. They play most of their games at the Air Force Academy, but they also play a couple of games right here in Woodland Park. They will be having a home match at 6:15 p.m. on January 3. Then they will be hosting their Winter Classic game at 7p.m. on February 2. Coach Mason invites everyone in the area to come out and watch one of the games the very first Woodland Park High School Hockey team will be playing at Meadow Wood Sports Complex!