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Rocky Mountain Rough Riders beat SSM Bantams 4-3 in overtime

By frederick61, 12/15/12, 2:00AM CST


Friday, Shattuck-St. Mary’s hosted a Showcase tourney for their Prep and U16 teams. They also scheduled a two game series for their bantam team with the Rocky Mountain Rough Riders U14 team.

The Rough Riders organization is only four years old. They skate out of the Denver area and are affiliated with the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Rough Riders of the USHL. In the past two years they have added U14 and U13 teams to their organization Shattuck’s bantam team is ranked #2 going into this weekend’s games in the nation with a 23-3-1 record; the Rough Riders are ranked #23 with a 12-10-2 record. The Rough Rider’s overtime win was a step up for their program.

Period 1

Shattuck dominated the opening minutes of the first period. They established control in the Rough Rider’s zone and kept the Rocky Mountain team bottled up by pinching their defense down on the Rough Rider breakout attempts and beating the Rough Rider forwards in the blue line area.

But the Sabre’s couldn’t beat the Rough Rider’s goalie, Cody Christofferson. As the opening period progressed, it got worst for the Sabres. Shattuck-St. Mary’s forwards could not beat the Rough Rider defense to get to the goalie.

A Shattuck cross checking penalty at the 14 minute mark finally broke the opening Sabre’s pressure. For the first time, the Rough Riders were able to establish puck control in the Sabre’s zone. They couldn’t score. But the play shifted to neutral ice after that and for the next few minutes, neither team mounted a serious threat.

Shattuck started to pressure the Rough Riders again at the 10 minute mark. The game slowed over the next few minutes. At the 5 minute mark, Shattuck drew another penalty and the Rough Riders struck in the Sabre’s zone.

The Sabres managed to kill the penalty, but the Rocky Mountain team kept pressure on the Sabres in the Shattuck-St. Mary’s zone. With two minutes left in the first period, the Rough Riders finally punched in a goal off a jam up around the Sabres’ net. Trent Fleming got the goal; James Crossman got the assist.

One minute later Shattuck finally beat Chrstofferson on a one two quick pass hard shot. The puck never left the ice. Shattuck’s Benjamin Lown got the goal to tie the game 1-1; Clayton Keller and Graham McPhee got the assists.

Period 2

Rocky Mountain started the period on the power play. The Rough Riders played a rough physical first minute and that combined with the man advantage, led to a score to take a 2-1 lead. Christopher Hock got the goal; Brandon Wilky and Luc Anderson got the assists.

The Sabres tried to rebound quickly, pressuring the Rough Riders in the Rocky Mountain zone; but couldn’t beat the stubborn Rough Rider defense. Shattuck-St. Mary’s could move the puck around the perimeter, but their shots were being blocked by the wings and the Sabre passes into the slot area were slowed or turned away by the defense men. The Sabres could not connect.

It was a repeat of the first period.

Gradually, the Rough Riders gained the upper hand and started to pressure the Sabres in the Sabres’ zone. At the 14 minute mark, the Rough Riders scored again. This time Crossman scored and Andre Kurtz and Hock got the assists. The Rough Riders led 3-1

After that goal, Shattuck upped the game pace. Shattuck forwards started to beat the Rough Rider defense men along the boards at the blue. They would carry the puck into the Rocky Mountain zone but hung on to the puck too long, passing up the good passing opportunities and going for the net. The Sabre’s forwards could not beat the Rough Rider goalie down low on a solo attack.

When the Rocky Mountain team drew a penalty at the 12 minute mark, the Sabre’s set up shop and just dominated the Rough Riders in the Rocky Mountain zone for the power play. But with the tough Rough Rider defense continuing to block shots and altering the Sabres game flow at the points and with Christofferson’s great goal tending, SSM was shut down.

Finally at the 8 minute mark, the Rough Riders got the puck out of their zone into the Sabre’s zone. For 4 minutes, Rocky Mountain had been trapped inside their zone and had survived.

With play shifting to center ice and into Shattuck’s zone, the Rough Rider forwards stopped pressuring Shattuck behind the Sabres’ goal low in the Sabre’s zone. They spread their skaters through the neutral ice. With the extra ice to manuver, the Shattuck forwards cut through the Rocky Mountain defense.

It resulted in a Sabre goal with 5 minutes left in the period. Carter Hillsgrove scored; Julian Detmer and Ryan Lindgren got the assists to cut the lead to 3-2. The last few minutes of the second period was a duel between the Sabres’ offense and the Rough Rider defense in the Rocky Mountain zone.

The Sabres “set up camp” in the Rough Riders’ zone and pummeled the Rocky Mountain’s defense. The Rough Rider’s didn’t waiver. Their forwards continuely blocked the majority of the outside shots and what trickled through to their net, goalie Christofferson cleaned up. The Rough Riders took it all and more importantly, took a 3-2 lead into the third period. 

Period 3

At a certain point watching a game, fans become aware of a great game. At the start of the third period, fans, players, coaches, even the rink maintainers were intently watching.

The third period opened with Shattuck-St. Mary’s coming out to attack the Rough Rider’s goal. For the first minute they succeeded. But then the Rough Riders started to force the play, getting physical and attacking the Sabre’s zone. That brief flurry didn’t last, but it slowed the Sabre’s attack.

The Sabres became tentative and for the next few minutes, the game pace slowed. Most of the play was in the neutral zone as Shattuck-St. Mary’s struggled to get their offense going. With the game clock just under 10 minutes, the Sabre’s finally started to roll and the Rough Riders fell back into a penalty kill box defense with a single forward in the slot, their defense looked like a 5 on a dice.

Five or not, the Sabre attack still could not beat the stubborn Rocky Mountain defense. When Shattuck drew a penalty a few minutes later, the Rough Riders kept to their “shell-like” defense and didn’t try to establish puck control in the Sabre zone. It cost them this time.

Shattuck offense used the extra ice to generate speed. They scored to tie the game 3-3 just as the penalty was ending. Lown scored the goal from the weakside crease, Clayton Keller and Mason Palmer got the assists. Shattuck had finally caught the Rocky Mountain defense out of position. With two minutes left on the clock, game on.

Shattuck did everything to win the game in the last two minutes of regulation, even pulling their goalie. But they couldn’t beat the Rough Rider defense. The game went into overtime. Oddly, the game became more transitional in the overtime. Both teams moved the puck. With a little over a minute left, the Rough Riders scored the game winner. They crashed the Sabre goal scoring off a melee in front of the Shattuck net. Samuel Cole got the game winning goal; Kurtz got the assist.

Shattuck lost 4-3. It was a great game.

In a discussion with John LaFontaine, the Sabre’s coach, before the game he talked about hockey and Shattuck and the pending game with the Rough Riders. Hockey can be a passion for some people like John, such that hockey is all they want to do. As we talked, one could see that John still had a passion for the game and that he had sorted out hockey in his life.

He takes his coaching seriously, but he appreciates the kids he coaches for what kids are and what the kids can be. As a former coach at the junior level and having played college hockey, he understands the next level and the commitment it takes to play there.

John is the older brother of Pat LaFontaine, NHL hall of famer, which some would say is more of a burden than a gift.

The two brothers played on the same teams when they were young. When asked how he felt being an older brother on a peewee team with a younger brother that got all the attention, John described his brother as a gift to him and others; not a burden.

It is what brothers should be.

Merry Christmas to Shattuck-St. Mary’s

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