Lam­bkins play­ing like lions on the ice

Coach: New team “not start­ing from scratch”

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Kyle New­man Kyle New­man: 303-954-1773 knew­man@den­ver­ or @KyleNew­manDP

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.

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