BOULDER – Jacob Boyle had three goals and Hayden Pike stopped 14 shots, however, it wasn’t enough as the #14 Montana State Bobcats pulled away late to capture a 12-6 win, propelling the Bobcats to the RMLC Championship game and for the second year in a row, ending the Skyhawks season.
The Bobcats scored right out of the gate and continued to apply pressure to the defense, but the Skyhawks stood strong and only trailed 3-1 after one quarter. Gary Swartzendruber, who was selected as a first team All-RMLC Defenseman scored the lone goal for Fort Lewis. In the second he’d get some help from the offense as Scott Dimmitt and Jacob Boyle found the back of the net to bring the score to 7-3 at halftime.
The second half was even as both defenses clamped down. Boyle would add two more but the Skyhawks were never able to get the momentum swing they banked on in previous matchups against NAU and CU-Denver. Montana State would never relinquish the lead, with the Skyhawks getting as close as three goals down in the fourth quarter before giving up two late while pressuring out to create a turnover.
“It’s a tough way to go out but our guys battled and they earned a lot of respect out here today.” Head Coach Tom Mudrak said. “You can’t say enough about our seniors. They led this program through some trying times and some good times, and they had the best attitudes you could ask for. They’ll be missed greatly.”
Going into the off season, there are a lot of question marks facing the program. Assistant Coach Dan Riecks, who led the team the previous four years is stepping down to pursue his career in teaching. Meanwhile, the Skyhawks graduate seven starters from this team, including goaltender Hayden Pike and defenseman Gary Swartzendruber.
Among the returning starters remaining is Durango product, Jacob Branch Boyle. Jacob, who scored three against MSU will be looked on to be a leader in his senior year on a team that will be very young across the board.
It’s safe to say, 2018 will be a new look Skyhawks team.