Team Stays Strong after Rough Season
A few years ago, the Woodland Park High School joined the ranks of Colorado schools that sport a hockey team.
But when the Panthers first got into the Colorado hockey world, competition was stiff since there was only a 5A high school hockey league.
That meant that Woodland Park, which usually competes at the 2A or 3A level in sports, was forced to go up against big schools that had major hockey programs enabling them to compete at the 5A level. In fact, rumors suggested that some of the teams the Panthers played when they first started on the ice had players that were kids of Colorado Avalanche players in Denver.
But now that the hockey season is a few years old, there are both 5A and 4A leagues. However, the Ice Panthers still face many of their tough opponents that come from bigger schools and are located closer to where the matches are played.
Over the years, the Panthers have battled tough on the ice, featuring successful seasons even though they are playing teams that are better funded for the sport. This year has been exciting for many of the players, as it is the first year during which the team’s six seniors have played together since they were four years old. And better yet, it marks a four-year stint under Head Coach Travis Seabolt.
Due to the importance of this longevity, Seabolt says that he has noticed a difference from previous years when it comes to team cohesion.
Unfortunately, the team this year has seen better days, as they have lost all but one match in the current season. The team sits in fifth place in their 4A South League with a 0-6 league record and a 1-10 overall record.
However, their coach is still excited about how much he has seen his students advance over the last four years. He is also happy about the fact that the team has grown with students that have never played the sport before.
Seabolt said that he is most proud about how the hockey players work together as a team. “I think a lot of it is chemistry,” Seabolt explained. “We don’t have any kids this year that are here to prove themselves. The kids that we have this year are a really tight-knit group and they are all good buddies. And they have all surrounded themselves with positive energy. You have to do what you have to do when the season has gone like it has this year.”
The coach still talks about the team’s big 5-4 overtime win against Air Academy on Jan. 15. “It was a fun and exciting win that went into overtime,” Seabolt said. “I think we were actually down with a minute left in the game and then one of our guys scored with like 20 seconds left in the game. Then, the same guy went down to score in overtime and win. That was a great win for us!”
At this point, the Woodland Iceman only has two matches left and playoffs are probably not going to happen. This Saturday, the Panthers take on the 2-13 Rampart Rams. They then finish their season on Monday with their final match against the 5-8 Pueblo County Hornets.
The coach said, though, that the team will keep trying to improve until the season is officially over. “The skill set is there, at this point we just continue to fine tune everything we have been working on,” Seabolt said.
On Jan. 22 and 23 the Lady Panthers girls’ basketball team impressed crowds with bac back-to-back victories. But then the team started to slip with playoff hopes slowly dwindling with every close loss.
On Jan. 25, the girls lost to Salida 39-17. Then on Jan. 30 the team fell in a close one to Banning Lewis Academy 40-35.
But for those who haven’t had a chance to catch the action on the court, there are still two home matches left of the season and they both take place this week. On Tuesday, the Lady Panthers challenge the 1-14 Florence Huskies and then they take on the 7-9 Lamar Thunder on Thursday.
The girls finish their regular season next Thursday on the road against the 5-10 Manitou Mustangs. Postseason play is not officially out of the question yet, but it’s fair to say that it isn’t likely.
Over the last couple of weeks, the WP boys’ basketball team has unfortunately continued to stay on the losing end of the spectrum. In fact, the Panthers haven’t won a match since they beat Ellicott 61-40 on Jan. 9.
The team’s most recent losses include a 59-38 defeat by Salida on Jan. 25 and a 76-44 loss to Banning Lewis Academy on Jan. 30. As of last week, the boys had a 2-12 overall record and a 1-8 record in their 4A/3A Tri-Peaks League sticking them in 12th place.
The Panthers also play their last two home games this Tuesday and Thursday against the Florence Huskies (6-9) and the Lamar Thunder (12-3). Then, they also finish the season next Thursday on the road against the Manitou Mustangs (6-9).