By Trevor Phipps
Last week, the Woodland Park High School hockey team did what they needed to do and won all of their remaining regular season matches. But due to changes made on how many teams qualify for the state tournament, the Ice Panthers missed a chance to play in the post-season.
Due to a shortened season caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the state playoffs only consisted of two rounds. Therefore, only four teams get to play for the state championship title.
The Panthers had the best season they have ever had in the history of the team, earning an 8-2 league record. The Panthers won their 4A South Division for the first time in team history. However, due to changes in how teams qualify for playoffs, the Panthers still missed a chance to get the fourth playoff spot.
“Since there are three divisions, the three teams that won all of their first league games got an automatic buy-in,” Coach Travis Seabolt said. “In our division that was Cheyenne Mountain because we lost to them our first game. So even though we won the division, since Cheyenne Mountain won their first game against us, it secured their spot.”
The Panthers did have a chance at the fourth playoff spot, but they were in a tight race with two other teams. Late Friday, Seabolt found out that the final playoff spot was awarded to Battle Mountain. He said that the decision was made using several determining factors including the teams’ RPI rating, votes of the coaches, and Max Prep statistics.
Despite the outcome, Seabolt was pleased with how his team did this year. “My second line just stepped up and they were just tenacious,” Seabolt said. “My second line consists of Gabriel Denio, Tyler Thime, and Brennan Morgan, they all of a sudden became great contributors to the team. They were the ones with the lion’s share of the points during the last stretch of the season.”
On March 5, the team beat Pueblo County 9-6. Then last Monday, they came out ahead against Cheyenne Mountain 4-3.
The Panthers continued their winning streak when they trounced Palmer 9-1 last Tuesday. The team finished their season off with another victory against Coronado 5-2 on Wednesday.
“I’m still extremely proud of these kids,” the coach said. “Going from last place last year to first place this year is a great accomplishment.”