Each week through the end of February, the CO Hockey Hub will highlight the top teams in select divisions, identify squads making big jumps in the CO Hockey Hub Now Rankings and spotlight classifications with competitive races in the chase for state tournament bids.
The top four teams in the final rankings for each division earn a spot in the CAHA State Championship. All teams not qualifying for the state tournament are eligible to participate in the Avalanche Cup, which is a part of the CAHA State Championship Series.
The CAHA State Championship and Avalanche Cup placements will be revealed March 2. The state tournament is March 13-15 and the Avalanche Cup is March 6-8.
We continue our spotlight coverage this week with a look at the Boys 14U A and Girls CGHL 15U divisions.
A competitive race for the top spot in Boys 14U A came to a close over the weekend.
Steamboat Springs, hailing from the Western Colorado Hockey League (WCHL), entered the weekend with the top ranking out of eight teams at 93.3 and a 20-3-2 record. It met with league rival Vail to close out the regular season, which had a 93.01 rating and with a 23-4-2 record.
Vail likely needed a sweep, but could only salvage the split. Andrew Kempers scored all four goals for Steamboat Springs in its 4-2 win Sunday in Eagle.
It was all Vail in the second half of the doubleheader as it scored the first six goals en route to a 7-1 triumph. Declan Kelly and Max Haims each had two goals while Jacob McCormack had five assists.
Vail won the season series 2-1-1 with an aggregate 15-8 goal advantage, but Steamboat Springs is projected as the top seed for the CAHA state tournament.
More separation occurs further down the standings. Glenwood Springs (18-7-2, 90.65) had some work to do to get to state when it was in the throes of a five-game skid in January.
Since Jan. 25, Glenwood Springs has reeled off 11 straight wins, including Sunday’s 3-0 shutout of Aspen. That was the fifth shutout of the streak. It went 1-2-1 against Steamboat Springs and 0-3-1 against Vail, but has not seen either team since its hot streak started.
Three more 14U A teams finished above .500, but only one more can claim a spot in the coveted top four. While state pairings are not finalized until March 2, it appears Boulder Hockey Club (BHC) is in line for the No. 4 seed.
It lost 3-1 Sunday to Littleton Red to drop from 88.22 to 87.59 and finish with a 14-10-2 record.
Denver University (DU) entered the weekend in fifth place and won Saturday 1-0 against No. 7 Colorado Springs (7-13-3, 83.42). The win inched DU to a 86.68 rating to narrowly claim fifth place.
Littleton Black (15-14-4, 86.5) was also in contention for a top four spot.
DU and Littleton Black project to be among the favorites in the Avalanche Cup.
In our first Weekly Rankings Spotlight on Jan. 22, we took a look at the 15U division of the Colorado Girls Hockey League (CGHL).
At the time, Vail was cruising in the 10-team division with a 95.57 rating and a 14-1-0 record.
The one team within striking distance was Boulder Hockey Club (BHC) which had a 93 rating and was 17-4-0.
BHC applied the pressure, rattling off nine straight wins beginning Jan. 25. Three came against No. 3 New Mexico (11-8-1, 87.96) and one against No. 4 Hyland Hills (12-10-2, 87.34).
After winning four games over the weekend, BHC was upset by No. 6 Aspen (10-11-3, 86.31) 2-1 in Sunday’s regular-season finale. Aspen could be a tough out in the Avalanche Cup as it came on strong late in the season and played the toughest schedule among the top eight. It also picked up a tie with No. 1 Vail after four prior losses in the series.
Meanwhile, Vail extended its unbeaten streak to 13 games dating back to Jan. 20. It went 2-0-2 in its four weekend games to hang on to its division lead.
Vail enters the CAHA state tournament coming off a 4-0 shutout of No. 10 Telluride (1-15-2, 66.73), ties with Aspen and No. 7 Colorado Springs (7-11-1, 83.19) and a 7-1 thrashing of Hyland Hills, leading to a 23-1-3 regular-season record and a 95.06 rating.
New Mexico played the fewest games among the top six. The Albuquerque-based squad has been streaky throughout the season. It crested for a season-high six-game win streak in November and December. In January it dropped five of six, albeit three being hard fought losses to BHC and another to Hyland Hills.
New Mexico closed on a three-game win streak, which featured a key 4-2 victory Saturday against No. 5 Steamboat (14-13-2, 86.49).
Hyland Hills will have something to prove at state as it finished 0-7 against the top two. It did pick up a 2-1-1 series win over New Mexico, with both wins coming by multiple goals.
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