Lewis-Palmer Competes in the First Ever Palmer Lake Outdoor Classic

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On January 4, 2022, the Lewis-Palmer Rangers hosted the undefeated Cheyenne Mountain Red-Tailed Hawks in the first ever Palmer Lake Outdoor Classic. Cheyenne Mountain ended up winning the match 4-1, but many Ranger players will remember this game for quite a while.

With the game being set on Palmer Lake, the game was played with “pond hockey” rules, a variation of hockey that is popular in the Midwest and Canada. These rules affect many aspects of a regulation game. The boards became “small barriers of frozen snow” and the game used smaller nets to limit the number of errant shots. The rules also limit physicality, a huge part of regulation hockey.

Due to the rule changes, the game could not be counted as an official game, only an exhibition match. However, this just added to the fun. With the game having low stakes and less physicality, many players took advantage of the moment by trying to perform moves they would not usually get to display in a regular game.

“It was definitely a lot of fun for the players with the rule changes,” defenseman Grogan Blach (12) said. “I know fans like to see big hits and fights, but I think the fun we were having rubbed off on the crowd.”

While the change in rules made for a fantastic event, the setting made it even better. As the players took the ice, the air was brisk, the lights were bright. Christmas lights and Palmer Lake’s mountain side star illuminated the town. Music played over the speakers and barrels were lit with fire to warm up the crowd.

Night falls over Palmer Lake. “The atmosphere was awesome. It felt a little like a video game with music in the background, the night lights and barrel fires and the crowd. Nothing I’ve ever experienced before,” Rhys Halaby (12) said. All pictures provided by Scott Bradley, courtesy of Kasia Gilbert.

“The atmosphere was awesome. It felt a little like a video game with music in the background, the night lights and barrel fires and the crowd. Nothing I’ve ever experienced before,” team captain Rhys Halaby (12) said.

Everything came together perfectly, but not without the dedication and hard work from head coach, Scott Bradley, as well as many others.

“I reckon our head coach put in 100 hours of work. Add time for his family and the many others who helped, I would guess 500 hours of labor between creating the ice, securing the venue, advertising, working the actual event, and so on,” Halaby said.

Prior to the event, many of the players and coaches were unsure whether the game would even happen. With Colorado having a rather peculiar winter up to this point in the year, the temperatures were halting the construction of the ice.

“Ice preparation was tough. A thin layer of ice was already on Palmer Lake but we had to use a pump to draw water up from the bottom of the lake and create more layers,” Halaby said.

“We had to start preparing a couple weeks prior and were unsure if it [the ice] would be good enough come game day,” Blach added.

Come game time, the ice was playable, the game was on.

Palmer Ridge seniors Trevor Bradley and Rhys Halaby hold the flag for the National Anthem. The Cheyenne Mountain Red-Tailed Hawks went on to beat the Lewis-Palmer Rangers 4-1 in the exhibition match. All pictures provided by Scott Bradley, courtesy of Kasia Gilbert.

Cheyenne Mountain’s Andrew Kerchner (10) got on the board first as he found the back of Lewis-Palmer’s net early in the game. Lewis-Palmer was able to tie up the game thanks to Trevor Bradley (12). Unfortunately for the Rangers, the Red-Tailed Hawks scored three unanswered goals, winning the game 4-1.

Even though the game did not end in a favorable score for the home town team, the event was more than a success. The Lewis-Palmer hockey team raised tons of money for the program and the players, as well as those in attendance, had loads of fun.

Many of the players were thankful to be apart of the first annual Palmer Lake Outdoor Classic and are hopeful that the event becomes a town tradition for years to come.

“I am hoping it [the Palmer Lake Outdoor Classic] continues to grow. Maybe next year the rink will be longer and bigger and more alumni will come back for the game. I just want it to become a good community tradition,” Halaby said.

A Lewis-Palmer player changes directions during the game. All pictures provided by Scott Bradley, courtesy of Kasia Gilbert.

Since the event, Lewis-Palmer has continued their so-far successful season. They improved to a 5-2 record with a win over the Doherty Spartans on January 14. The Rangers will faceoff against the 7-2-1 Castle View Sabercats on Friday, January 21.