Unexpected loss forced No. 3 Battle Mountain hockey to regain focus

(Thomas Green)

In some ways, Battle Mountain's loss to Steamboat Springs on Feb. 19 was a blessing in disguise. According to coach Derek Byron, the Huskies weren't exactly playing the high-level hockey that he had seen early in the season.

When the Sailors came away with a 4-2 win, it forced his players to take a long look at themselves and decide what kind of team they wanted to be the rest the season. They decided they want to finish the year as the No. 1 team in the state, the same way the coaches tagged them as the top team heading into the season.

"Up until the point of that loss, we had been on a slow decline," coach Derek Byron said. "We were complacent, staying No. 1 but not really playing like a No. 1 team, in my opinion. We lost and that next day we started playing the way we're supposed to play."

A big part of that is the aggressive nature of the way the Class 4A No. 3 Huskies play the game. They place a huge emphasis on puck control in order to create as many scoring chances as possible. It's paying off as forward Kyle Parliament is among the state leaders in total points and power play goals.

If the Huskies find themselves with a man advantage, happy to pounce on every opportunity he gets to put the puck in the net.

"Our power play just gives us a lot of great (scoring) opportunities," Parliament said. "We're able to set up nicely and take advantage when they're a man down."

(Thomas Green)

It helps that in front of their own net is a brick wall of a goalie in Logan Gremmer. He's posting a save rate of 92 percent and faces more than 25 shots per game. And he savors every opportunity to turn the puck away.

Like a true net minder, he took the loss to Steamboat very personally, feeling he could have done more to help his team.

"It was tough," he said. "We all kind of felt defeated. Our next game against Aspen turned us around. We knew what we needed to do to get the win."

In that 7-1 win over Aspen, Gremmer turned away all 14 shots he faced before getting pulled as the Huskies held a comfortable lead. He'll be a huge piece of what the Huskies hope will be a championship run over the course of the next three weeks.

"Logan's a top goalie in Colorado," Byron said. "He's very good. He's kept us in games when we aren't playing well this year and he's shown up to every game and been ready to go. He's a lights out goaltender."

Battle Mountain currently sits one point behind Crested Butte in the 4A Mountain League. They have some business against Aspen and Summit the next few days, but will end their regular season with a three-game series against Crested Butte.

That series will be crucial as the league champion is guaranteed a playoff spot. There is one at-large spot available, but the Huskies don't want to leave anything to chance. They have to play their final games as if they are the best team in the state and they know that over the course of the next week, they're going to get everyone's best shot.

"Teams are gunning for us," Gremmer said. "They've all wanted to take our No. 1 spot from us."

(Thomas Green)