Lewis-Palmer and Cheyenne Mountain take base hockey game to the pond
PALMER LAKE – It took months of planning and effort to get 40 minutes of hockey played at Palmer Lake. And every minute was worth it judging by the smile on Scott Bradley’s face.
Hockey Coach Lewis-Palmer was the mastermind and architect behind the foundation pond hockey game between Lewis-Palmer and Cheyenne Mountain. He was supposed to be part of a regulation away game a few years ago when the NHL brought the Winter Classic to the Air Force Academy. LP and Pine Creek were scheduled to play the final night of a triple header, but a blizzard canceled the game.
Since then, outdoor hockey has been on Bradley’s mind. This dream came true when his team battled Red-tailed Hawks. Cheyenne Mountain won the game 4-1, but that technically doesn’t count. But no one will know by watching Bradley’s reaction, as well as the reaction of both teams.
“Athletes had fun, goals were scored, penalties were awarded and no one was injured,” Bradley said. “And we have a ton of people here in Palmer Lake.”
The crowd would have been an impressive draw for any regular season hockey game. The threat of cool temperatures brought on by blustery conditions turned away no fans came in droves.
The Red-tailed Hawks scored the first goal of the game before Trevor Bradley tied the game for Lewis-Palmer. The biggest issue for players was a view adjustment. On normal ice, the white surface makes it very easy to pick up the puck while Palmer Lake’s black surface makes vision a little more difficult.
“The eyesight was bad and we couldn’t see the puck most of the time,” Trevor said. “We kind of got by with what we did and had fun playing pond hockey.
The game remained tied until late in the second half when both teams had power play opportunities – which in pond hockey means it’s the goaltender who comes off the ice – but neither could convert those chances.
With just over three minutes left in regulation time, Noah Bonnett scored what turned out to be the winning goal. But it was the start of a flurry of goals as the Hawks scored two more before time ran out to claim the victory.
“It was great to be here with the boys and celebrate with the team,” Bonnett said. “I’m grateful to (Lewis-Palmer) for having us here. We had a great time.”
In Bradley’s mind, this is just the first game in what will hopefully become an annual tradition. Abnormally hot weather threw a good deal of hiccups into the process. Bradley was excited to see the game play out and has already started thinking about things he would change or do better in the future.
“We knew the first round was going to be full of lessons,” he said. “We’ll come back and do a hot wash, if you will, get a debrief on what items could have gone better. I was taking mental notes the whole time.
But for now, he can celebrate a successful endeavor to provide a unique atmosphere for high school hockey. The ability to create an event like a pond hockey game and share it with his players, community and family is something he will never forget.
“I’m a coach but I’m also a father and a husband,” Bradley said. “It’s great to have my family here. I don’t have the words.”