Battle Mountain defeated Crested Butte 5-4 in overtime Thursday to win its first ice hockey state championship in program history. Photo by Steven Robinson, SportsEngine
Players from Battle Mountain celebrate one of their five goals during their team's victory over Crested Butte in Loveland to win the first Class 4A state championship for ice hockey. Photo by Steven Robinson, SportsEngine
If anyone is aware of how close Battle Mountain has come to winning a CHSAA ice hockey state title, it’s Huskies coach Derek Byron.
Byron played for the program from 2002-06. He was a big part of the team in 2005 that made it to the state final before falling to Air Academy in double overtime. In its history, Battle Mountain has made it to the CHSAA finale three times — all ending in losses.
The Huskies were back in the final for the first time since 2008 on Thursday. This time, however, they reversed their previous bad fortunes, as third-seeded Battle Mountain rallied in the third period to send the game to overtime and come out out with a 5-4 win against top-seeded Crested Butte to capture the first Class 4A crown at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland.
Matthew Solanik (29) of Crested Butte prepares to take a faceoff. Solanik had a team-high two goals Thursday in the Class 4A state title game in Loveland. Photo by Steven Robinson, SportsEngine
The Huskies took control in the bonus period, outshooting their opponent 4-1, culminating in Wyatt Horn pushing a loose puck into the goal to complete his hat trick. More importantly, it was the goal that gave the Huskies their first state title.
Byron, the Battle Mountain alumnus, had few words to describe the feeling following Horn’s goal.
“Just elation,” he said. “Just pure joy.”
Not only can the Huskies boast about having a state championship, they can also claim being the state's first Class 4A CHSAA ice hockey state champion.
“It was an incredible experience,” Byron said. “CHSAA once again did a great job. The venue was spectacular.”
For Byron, his experience with Battle Mountain has come full circle. He nearly brought home the title as a player. Now, he gets the experience of winning the state title from the bench as a coach.
“To finally be here and watch those kids celebrate, that was pretty special,” Byron said. “That title was for everyone who has ever put a Huskies uniform on.”
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