Lambkins playing like lions on the ice
Coach: New team “not starting from scratch”
Iwith Fort Collins hockey coach Rhett Gordon n its first year as a CHSAA program, the Fort Collins hockey team has taken the state by storm. The Lambkins are 5-0 this season, including a statement 4-2 win over Monarch on Saturday, with a 21-man roster of players who attend high school in the Poudre School District.
Monarch, which has played in the state title game four years running, is one of the state’s hockey powers, so Fort Collins’ victory over the Coyotes underscored the fact this new team is ready to immediately compete against the CHSAA’s best.
Denver Post preps editor Kyle Newman caught up with Fort Collins coach Rhett Gordon to discuss the team’s undefeated start, how he ended up coaching the Lambkins, the win over Monarch and more. Q: You’re off to a great start in your
first year as a program. Why is that? A: The main thing is a lot of these kids have already played together in “club” for a long time. We’re not starting from scratch, and the transition period hasn’t been that crazy. Guys like Drew Cronin, Greg Bilek and Brendan Meyer, as well as two goalies in Brendan Diaz and Billy Martin, have played big for us. Q: What’s your coaching background, and how did you end up getting this job? A: I’m a Canadian guy who played minor pro hockey in the Western Hockey League with the Regina Pats. My wife is American, and we ended up living in Colorado. I’m the hockey director in the NCYH (Northern Colorado Youth Hockey) for the Junior Eagles, and it just sort of seemed like a fit. These kids are at that same age, and high school hockey keeps growing in popularity. I was lucky enough to be able to get the job and coach these kids. Q: What’s your take on the growth of the sport at the CHSAA level? Is that great for the sport that more high schools are fielding hockey teams instead of players focusing on club full time? A: I see both sides of it. But the thing is, these kids want to play a high school sport. If we can let more kids play hockey, and have them playing a sport that they love through the CHSAA, I think there’s nothing but positives for that. Q: What was the key to the big win over Monarch? That was one of the upsets of the season so far. A: Obviously, Monarch’s a good hockey team, and I know (coach) Jimmy Dexter over there. We had good goaltending that night, our kids did a very good job defensively and we also scored some timely goals. We had a couple of good power plays too, and that will continue to be the key to our success this year. Q: What’s the ultimate goal for this
season’s team? A: The biggest thing with a new program is that we didn’t know what we were getting into. The first goal is to make the state tournament, which we’ll probably have to win our (Pinnacle) conference to do, and then we’re going to take it game by game from there.