Rankings meant nothing to the Durango peewee hockey team at the Avalanche Cup in Denver.
The group of 11- and 12-year-old hockey players from the Durango Area Youth Hockey Association entered the tournament ranked 11th in the state. But the Durango team would win all four games, including a 3-2 championship victory March 8 against the Hyland Hills Black team from the mighty Colorado Competitive Youth Hockey League, to secure a thrilling Avalanche Cup title.
Durango won the opening game of the tournament 5-0 against Foothills Blue of the CCYHL before a 12-0 thrashing of Colorado Springs Gold, also of the CCYHL.
Because Durango had not allowed a single goal in its first two games, helped largely by the goalkeeping of Bryson Quimby and the defense of Luke Fowler, Brenden Johnson and Connor Jones, the Durango team went into the semifinals as the top seed,. Every other team in the tournament had allowed at least one goal.
It was a Western Slope clash in the semifinals, as Durango faced Grand Junction. Though Durango would finally concede goals, it would be a 3-2 win against Grand Junction that sent Durango into the championship game.
The three championship goals were scored by Sawyer Jones, Johnson and Wynn Daniels.
Sawyer Jones scored on the power play in the first period with an assist from Fowler. Two minutes later, Hyland Hills answered back with an even-strength goal from Blake Riccio. The tie was short-lived, though, as Johnson broke free and scored 42 seconds later to give Durango a 2-1 lead after one period.
Hyland Hills would tie the game once more on a Simon Bode power play goal. Tied 2-2, Durango’s Wynn Daniels would score at the 12:10 mark of the second period with an assist from Connor Jones. That Daniels goal proved to be the game winner, as neither team could find the back of the net in the third period, even in a frantic four-on-four late in the game with both teams taking penalties.
Quimby capped a remarkable tournament in which he stopped 37 of the 41 shots he faced for a save percentage of .902.
The victory capped an incredible season of hockey for Durango-area teams, as the Durango High School varsity club team also won its first Rio Grande Hockey League tri-state championship by beating Telluride. After an Avalanche Cup victory, the peewee players showed they will be ready to carry on the legacy set by the 2020 Demons.