Steamboat hockey players invited to Team Colorado selection camp
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Team Colorado, a hockey roster composed of the best high school players in the state, will not be selected until March, but the process of deciding who makes the cut began Friday, Nov. 22.
Four players from the Steamboat Springs High School boys hockey team were invited to the Team Colorado Selection Camp. Seniors Tanner Ripley, Griffin Maltby, David Thiel and junior Quinn Dorris were named to one of four teams filled with the 80 best players in the state.
The Sailors played on the same team, competing in two of four games that allowed all of the 80 players to show off their skills on the ice.
“There was not really one bad player out there. It was really fast,” said Thiel.
“It was competitive, lots of skill out there,” Ripley added.
After the games Nov. 22 and 23, the roster was halved to a top-40 game, which was played at the Pepsi Center following the Colorado Avalanche game Nov. 23. Maltby, a defender for Steamboat, made the cut.
“I stepped on the ice and kind of looked around and was a little like in awe,” Maltby said of playing on the Avalanche home ice. “It was kind of bad. It was a completely new experience.”
The head coach of the team, George Gwozdecky, formerly coached at the University of Denver and was an assistant coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning in the National Hockey League and is now heading the Valor Christian program. He, along with his assistant coaches, were the ones who extended the invitations to the camp. Having a coach of such a high caliber see their talent was an honor for the Sailor boys.
Adding to the special feeling of the weekend, the Sailors were four of just seven players from the Western Slope and beyond. A player from Vail, Battle Mountain and Glenwood Springs were also in the top-80 selection camp.
“I think it’s pretty cool, us mountain boys get an opportunity to show we’re just as good as the Denver kids,” Maltby said.
While the top-40 players likely have higher odds of making Team Colorado, anyone from the selection camp can be named to the roster.
The coaches will evaluate players throughout the Colorado High School Activities Association season before announcing the final roster on Monday, March 9.
All three Sailors said they’ll undoubtedly focus on the high school season, but will definitely keep Team Colorado in the back of their minds.
“You just got to play how you’d normally play and (hope to) get the opportunity,” said Ripley.
If a Sailor is selected, they would travel to the National Invitational Tournament in Minneapolis, Minnesota, from April 29 to May 3, 2020, against the best high school players from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Dakota and Massachusetts. This is the first time Colorado will be a part of the tournament.
“The tournament you’d be playing in is pretty ridiculous, with kids going into the draft, Division I,” Thiel said. “It’d be pretty cool. I’d be pretty nervous.”
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