Ice Hawks set to host state high school tournament at the Havre Ice Dome
George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor email@example.com
Spring may seem like it has sprung already, but in Havre this weekend, ice will be the center of attention as the Montana State High School Hockey Tournament returns to the Havre Ice Dome. The state tournament gets under way Friday morning and will feature six teams vying for the 2007 state championship. And among those six teams will be one of the tournament favorites, the Western Division champion Havre Ice Hawks. Havre finished the regular season with a 14-3-4 record, which included an undefeated run two weeks ago at the divisional tournament in Butte. The divisional championship featured a pair of wins over the defending state champion, the Great Falls Americans, who still enter the tournament as one of the top teams in Montana. The state tournament will also feature teams from Miles City, Helena, Billings and Bozeman. “I think right now it’s kind of up in the air,” Havre head coach Dave Sheppard said. “Great Falls and Havre has kind of been the rivalry for awhile, but we split this year and we split with Helena too, so any of those teams have a chance. Miles City also won the Eastern divisional, so they are good too. I don’t think you can really call any team the favorite. It’s going to be really wide open.” As wide open as this weekend’s tourney might be, Havre still might have the most talented team in the field. The Ice Hawks have a solid mix of youth and experience, and they have the one thing that a championship hockey team absolutely needs a solid goal tender. Despite nagging injuries this year, Ice Hawks’ goalie David Zentmire has been spectacular between the pipes. Zentmire has a high save percentage this season, which is his second as a full-time starter. Zentmire’s backup is Will DeVries. But as good as Zentmire is in the net, Sheppard believes the key to winning a state championship will come in the defensive zone. If the Ice Hawks defensemen help Zentmire out this weekend, then Havre should be in the running for a state title. “The biggest thing for us is going to be our defense,” Sheppard said. “Just as in any other sport, the team with the best defense usually wins the most games. We have been pretty solid this year on defense from top to bottom and we have a solid goaltender, so if we can keep that up, we will have a good chance.” Havre is also an outstanding offensive team led by forward Todd Roe. Roe is the Ice Hawks leading scorer this season with 24 points, including 16 goals and eight assists. Tyler Boyce is a three-year starter for Havre and is second on the team in points with 22. Boyce has 11 goals and 11 assists. Mason Sheppard has also scored 22 points this year, including 13 assists. Other key players for Havre include Shane Kemmer, Kyle Miller, Mike Erickson, Paul Turner, Will Schilling, Andrew Lindquist and Ryan Armstrong, to name a few. “Todd, Tyler and Mason all play on the same line and they have been our best goal scorers,” Sheppard said. “But we are starting to get some more goals from our second line, which is going to be important.” The Ice Hawks’ road to the state championship will start Friday at 8 a. m. when they face off against Western division rival Helena. Havre split with the Bighorns this season. Havre will also play against Bozeman in Friday’s nightcap. The game between Bozeman and Havre is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Friday schedule will also feature Miles City taking on Billings at 10:15 a. m., Helena and Bozeman at 2 p.m., and Miles City and Great Falls at 4:15 p. m. The first round wraps up on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. when Billings plays Great Falls. Saturday’s schedule also includes the fifth/sixth-place game of pool play at 3 p.m. and the two semifinals at 5:30 and 7:45 p.m. Sunday’s medal round will begin with the fifth-place game at 9 a.m., followed by the third-place game at 10:15 a.m. The championship game is slated to start at 12:15 p.m.