Steamboat High School standouts get chance to showcase talents in Pittsburgh
Steamboat Springs — The good news is that Steamboat Springs hockey players Andrew Mitchell and Peyton Tritz will get to start their spring break a little early this year. The bad news for Mitchell is that he will have to leave for a planned vacation, his senior trip, to Mexico a few days later than planned.
But he’s not complaining.
“Not the weather,” Mitchell joked when asked why he is excited about playing in 2017 America’s Showcase. The event will be held April 20 to 24 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
“I’m gong to Mexico late to go to this thing,” he said. “But I’m looking forward to the high level of competition and the experience. Traveling with a team across the country should be fun.”
The 2017 America’s Showcase will host teams from across the United States as part of a four-day tournament. Colorado will send two teams including a “Burgundy” team, coached by Cherry Creek High School head coach Jeff Mielnicki, and a “White” team, coached by Cherry Creek assistant Ralph Bammert.
The teams will compete in four-team pools with hopes of advancing to the single-elimination rounds, which will include quarterfinal, semifinal and championship games. But team manager Jeremy Sims explained the idea behind the tournament has less to do with winning a title and more about giving the players exposure to more than 170 college and junior hockey scouts.
“Yes, you want to win,” Sims said. “But the ultimate goal for us is to have the players be seen. The more games a team wins the more times those players will be seen, but we are not going to shorten the bench just to win a game.”
Mitchell and Tritz were invited to take part in the showcase after the Sailors’ high school season ended more than three weeks ago. Mitchell was awarded a spot, but Tritz had to try out because of the number of goalies who wanted to be on the team.
The two Sailors were part of a strong Steamboat Springs High School program that finished with 15-5-2 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Colorado State High School Championships before losing to Cherry Creek 3-1.
Mitchell, a forward, finished the season with 14 goals and 14 assists.
“He is a good team player and a good leader,” Tritz said of his teammate. “He has real nice stick-handling skills and is just a strong skater and all-around player. He can play both offense and defense.”
Mitchell is planning on going to college but hasn’t committed to a school yet.
“I think this is a cool opportunity to go to a showcase — I’ve never been to one,” Mitchell said. “I want to see if I will be able to continue my hockey career.”
Tritz, who was a junior last season, was also a fixture in the Sailors lineup. He shared time with senior goalkeeper Adam Hoffman. Tritz finished the season with 205 saves in 18 regular-season games and a .928 save percentage.
“He is so calm when he is in the net,” Mitchell said of Tritz. “He is also very tall, and it’s hard to get those backhands past him. He moves really quick, and he is just positionally sound and always relaxed. He reminds me of Carey Price (a professional goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens).”
Both Steamboat players feel like the season ended way too early, and they’re excited about the chance to go to the showcase where they will have a chance to show what they can do on the ice.
“I just hope to get exposure, so that people can see me,” Tritz said. “Eventually, I hope to get on either a college or a junior team.”
Tritz plans to play his final year of high school in the 2017-18 season and then take a gap year between high school and college to play junior hockey. After that year, his plans are to return to school and hopefully land a spot on a college team.
Mitchell said he had not planned to keep playing hockey after his senior year but isn’t turning away any opportunities. He is currently playing for the Wranglers junior hockey team in Steamboat and is focused on beating the Pikes Peak Miners in the league championship game this weekend in Colorado Springs.
Both Mitchell and Tritz also play for the Mountain Militia as well.
“‘I’m just going to go out there and try to have fun and be me,” Mitchell said. “I’m going to do my best not to focus on the scouts and just play hockey.”
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