The Havre Ice Hawks hockey team got off to a slow start this season, starting out 0-5.
But with the state tournament awaiting the Ice Hawks this weekend, Havre is hoping to continue their turnaround and bring home a trophy.
After losing their first five games of the season, the Ice Hawks finished off their season 9-10-1. And now headed to Bozeman to compete today, Saturday and Sunday as the No. 6 seed, the Ice Hawks are hoping to put the finishing touches on what has turned out be a solid season.
“I think we just need to go one step,” Head coach Tyler Boyce said. “One game at a time. We have a lot of games this weekend and we only played one other four game weekend and we had trouble finishing it. But I think this will be our test to see if we can play a full weekend hard. We will see what we can do, our guys have a lot of potential.”
Havre opens state tournament play today at 12:30 p.m. against the Great Falls Americans. The Ice also play Glasgow at 7 tonight, then have a play-in game at 12 p.m. on Saturday against an opponent yet to be determined.
Missoula and Billings are favored this weekend, and will push for a top spot. But the Ice Hawks will also find themselves in a battle with Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena and Glasgow.
Missoula and Billings both swept the Ice Hawks this season, but Boyce thinks they could surprise them both if they face them again. Billings took down the Ice Hawks in their first four games of the season and Missoula defeated the Ice Hawks in their last two games of the season, just last weekend. But after starting out 0-5 and eventually recording nine wins, the Ice Hawks have seen mass amounts of improvement.
“I think they both have some kinks in their armour,” Boyce said. “And I think if we can play them both physical that they will crumble.”
Forwards Danny Roe and Jon Austin have played a big role in the Ice Hawk's success this season and should do the same this weekend, but both still struggle with injury. Freshman Ned Malone has also been a huge factor late in the season and is a key component to the second line.
Justin Jensen, Nate Welch, Tim Welch, Brayden Grimson, Jon Stoner and Chase Rolf should also be factors.
But it doesn’t matter who the Ice Hawks face, they will have to play to their strengths. Havre is it their best when they come out and control the pace of the game and play physical.
“I think that one thing we need to do,” Boyce said. “But struggle to do at times, is come out hitting and playing physical with teams. That’s when we play our best and it’s fun to watch, but we have had a problem with sitting back and waiting for teams to do something. But if we can come out with our foot on the gas and get that first goal, that will be a big motivator.”
The Ice Hawks will open up tournament play at 12:30 p.m. today in Bozeman. The 2011 state high school tournament runs through Sunday afternoon.