Fraser Valley Eagles take home state championship title
“Do you want two banners that say runner up? Or do you want your story to change?”
That was the message that Luke Steckler, head coach of the Fraser Valley Eagles, gave to his team after they lost in the Colorado Recreational Hockey League Tournament Finals a couple weeks ago. The 10U Squirts team, playing out of the Icebox in Fraser, started the year off slow, but had picked up momentum.
They went 9-3-4 in the regular season, and won their first two games of the league tournament before the steam finally ran out in the championship game. But the Eagles weren’t discouraged, and a week later they entered the state tournament determined.
“My expectation for them was to get through the first round of the playoffs, because the last couple years that’s where they’ve had trouble,” said Steckler. “After you win that first game, you move on and see what happens from there. It’s about winning the face-offs, winning puck battles and shooting to score; win every little thing and the outcome will be what you expect. That’s mainly what I told them.”
The Eagles did just that. They swept the tournament, avenging a 4-1 loss to the Boulder Bison from earlier in the year with an 8-2 win in the championship game. Better yet, they took home the title on the same ice they lost the league championship on just a week before.
“They played their best at the end of the year,” said Steckler. “That’s what you ask as a coach. All you’re trying to do is get them ready for games like this, and the group I had was ready.”
On Tuesday afternoon two new banners were added to the southwest wall of the Icebox hockey rink: a league runner up banner, and a state championship title.
“This group has made so many memories as a team,” said Steckler. “Ultimately I just tried to teach them how to be a team. To have each other’s backs in school, off the rink and everywhere. It was the best year of my life coaching this team. We all felt like a family. When it came to the last game of the season, they all took that to heart and they played for each other.”
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