BOZEMAN — There’s been a lot of firsts for the Montana State hockey team this season; first time at the ACHA Men’s Division 2 West Regionals, first time winning the Regional Tournament, and the first time earning a bid to the National Tournament.
But it definitely wasn’t easy.
“So our season, we started pretty mediocre, went a little over .500,” freshman Gavin Gary said. “So we seeded pretty well going into playoffs, but then we didn’t get the outcome we wanted to.”
Their performance was enough for a low seed in Regionals, but weather, sickness, and injury almost made travel impossible.
“It was it tough,” head coach Pete Kamman said. “Basically with the storm coming in, and basically thinking we were going to have to forfeit, making Regionals the first time and all the sudden not getting to go?”
The team was en route to Tempe, Ariz. on a bus, but due to snowy and dangerous road conditions, they couldn’t make it over many of the mountains. They had no choice but to turn around.
“(It) basically got us to the lowest of the lows.”
But then a local airline stepped up and sent the Bobcats on their way, free of charge.
“Allegiant really helped us out, so us stepping up and being able to play that good was a huge accomplishment for us and big thanks to Allegiant for helping us out,” Gary said.
In game two of Regionals, Montana State was down 4-1 to Boise State but came alive in the third period and won in dramatic fashion off of a goal with .7 seconds left on the clock.
“We saw (Ryan) Padden skating down the ice and I was just hopeful, and I knew that was going in,” Gary added. “With all the luck we were having that weekend.”
And even through all the adversity, the Bobcats rose above.
“We finally got on a hot streak and ended up winning Regionals which brings us to today,” Kamman said.
Now their ticket is punched to Nationals, a goal that the Bobcats had but never expected to obtain so fast.
“It’s happened a little bit quicker than we had planned, it’s a little bit of a surprise because it wasn’t fully expected, but knowing these guys, it’s really not because we have a lot of really great hockey players on our team,” Kamman finished.
Montana State will take on Aquinas on Friday Mar. 22.