SALMON, Idaho — The Butte Copper City Kings high school hockey team won the River of No Return Classic hockey tournament in over the weekend.
The Salmon high school team played host to Butte and seven other teams from Idaho Falls, Spokane, Jackson, Helena, and Sun Valley.
On Friday, Butte opened the tournament against the Bonnecrest Wolves of Idaho Falls and prevailed 4-0. Senior Andrew Kober started the scoring with a first period goal at the 6, minute, 55 second mark with assists credited to senior Carsten Quam and sophomore Josh McCarty.
The Kings found the net three times in the second period starting with a Quam unassisted goal at the 4:30 mark. Senior Aiden Francisco found the net at the 14:10 mark and Sophomore Hayden Allen closed out the Butte scoring on a Francisco assist at the 14:30 mark. The Kings defense held the Wolves throughout the third period for the victory. Senior goaltender Bryce Stewart got credit for the shutout as Butte outshot the Wolves 53 to 7.
On Saturday, Butte started the day with a 3-0 victory over the Jackson Moose. Butte took a 2-0 lead into intermission after a shorthanded goal by Quam at the 4:58 mark and an even strength goal by Senior Gabe LeProwse with 4:20 left in the period. Quam tallied the final goal 3:00 into the second period as Butte held on for the 3-0 win.
Stewart again got the shutout in the net as he recorded six saves. Saturday afternoon saw the Kings getting the better of the Tigers of Idaho Falls High School by a score of 3-0. After a scoreless first period, Senior Russell Park found the net with an unassisted even goal at the 1:41 mark of the second period. Sophomore Noah Williamson also found the net in the second period on a Quam pass and the Kings took a 2-0 lead into the second intermission.
Francisco closed out the Butte scoring with an unassisted goal at the 1:24 mark of the third period and the Kings’ defense shut down the Tigers for the remainder of the game. Stewart earned a third consecutive shutout, with help from the King’s defensemen, as Butte outshoot the Tigers 61 to 8.
Butte faced the Sun Valley Suns in the tournament championship on Sunday. Butte took the ice with only nine skaters and a goaltender, and prevailed in a hard-fought, very tight game, 4-3.
Butte jumped to a 2-0 lead at the first intermission on goals by Williamson (assisted by Quam) and Quam (assisted by Park). Sun Valley skated to a tie in the second period when Deke Burrell and Fletcher Stumph both found the net. Butte took back the lead when Park (assisted by sophomore Brennan Northrop) hit the back of the net at the 2:56 mark. Sun Valley answered with a DJ Gralenski power play goal at the 7:27 mark.
Butte regained the lead when Northrop got the game winner with 5:56 remaining and the Kings defense held the Suns to close out the game. Stewart again got the win in the net, and the Kings outshot the Suns 26 to 10.
Team captain Russell Park echoed the feelings of all the players, saying “We really wanted to win the tournament, especially the seniors since it’s our last year. Credit goes to Aiden Francisco and Andrew Kober who both moved from their forward positions to fill in on the defensive side this weekend. Overall, we just kept on working shift after shift, and managed to get the win.”
The team currently sits in second place behind Billings in the high school division of the Montana Treasure State League, and looks forward to playing in the state tournament the first weekend in March.
Click the links below to view the tournament stat sheets.
— Story submitted by Copper City Kings