Panther Icemen Get Hit With Slight COVID Delay
The Woodland Park Panther hockey team finally hit the ice in February after their season was postponed for a month.
However, after playing only three games and earning a stellar 2-1 record, the team’s season was put on a two-week pause.
But when they return, the Panther Icemen are quite optimistic about this year’s winter prospects. What a change from when the team had its debut several years ago.
According to the Woodland Park High School Hockey Coach Travis Seabolt, the team played one of their games and then found out that a player on the opposing team had tested positive for COVID-19.
Even though none of the Panther players had any symptoms or tested positive for the disease, they had to quarantine and take two weeks off from games and practices since they were possibly exposed.
The good news is that the Panthers will be cleared this week so they can get back on the ice. The Panthers also will not miss out on their chances to make the playoff, since they didn’t miss any league games.
The team has played three league games already this year, and they have two league matches left. If the Panthers earn first or second place in their division, then they will go on to play the state championship tournament in March.
During their first match on Feb. 1, the Panthers beat Palmer in a league game 10-6. Then on Feb.2, the Panthers dominated Pueblo County 7-0. On Feb. 9, the team suffered their first loss when they fell to Cheyenne Mountain by a score of 8-2.
So far, the coach has been thrilled about what the Panthers have accomplished. “They are looking great,” the coach said. “This is probably the best team we have had to date. We have eight seniors so we have a mature team and we are looking great! This season I am in a super fortunate position where I have a really big strong senior class and then a really quick and energetic freshmen class and some great players in between there. Last season we were short on some numbers, this year we have quite a few kids that have been practicing together since August.”
Despite being happy with his team this year, there are a few things Seabolt said the Panther boys could improve. “I think the biggest thing we need to work on as a team is the lower classmen maturing and using that senior class that is going out to mentor them,” Seabolt said. “Fundamentally they have all got it and they are great hockey players, so I think maturing as a team is going to be the biggest thing.”
The seniors on the team are the first group that has played team hockey all four years of high school since they were freshmen when the program started. Seabolt said that he hopes the experienced team members can help the new generation of hockey players succeed in the future.
The coach especially cited the success of the three senior captains of the team, and one-star junior player. “Mikael Romero, Trace and Parker Taranto are my three captains and they are always big stand-outs,” Seabolt said. “Tyler Thime is a junior this year that has really stepped up his game and really matured into his role on the team. He has kind of matured into the next Parker and Trace if you will. He is a junior and he is starting to come into his own.”
The coach also said that this year CHSAA changed their rules, and decided that the varsity team would no longer be allowed to play their home games at the team’s outdoor rink at the Meadow Wood Sports Complex in Woodland Park. He said that he did not know an exact reason for this decision. But he speculated that maybe the state organization believed that the rink did not have enough amenities.
This is unfortunate for local hockey fans, as Meadow Wood Sports Complex brough out some impressive crowds to view the varsity Panther Icemen.
However, even though the varsity Ice Panthers will be playing all of their games in indoor rinks in Colorado Springs, there will be some junior varsity games played at Meadow Wood that local hockey fans can enjoy.
Earlier in the month, the Meadow Wood ice rink had to shut down due to damage sustained from wind storms and the kids were not able to practice on it. Shortly after, Seabolt started a GoFundMe page to try to raise money to repair and upgrade the local hockey rink.