Tyler Montoya’s goals – on the ice and off – were many this year.
Before the 2017-18 season, he laid it out.
“Our goal for the team was to make final four,” the Rampart senior said. “And I wanted to be one of the top guys in the state.”
The first item was dashed in the first round of the state tournament. The second turned out to be no problem at all.
Montoya tied for second in the state with 50 points (22 goals, 28 assists) in 18 games. He was named second-team all-state and left his name all over the Rams’ record books.
It all started with letting go of the playmaker he thought he was, and taking some shots himself.
“It seemed like I couldn’t stop finding the net this year,” Montoya said. “I felt stronger this year, faster.”
It’s tempting to point to a game against Coronado on Jan. 29 to encapsulate Montoya’s year. He won a faceoff midway through the third period, with the game tied and the Cougars on a 5-on-3. He found a seam, blew by the defense and scored the shorthanded game-winner.
But Rams coach Josh McIntosh prefers to tell a different story – one where Montoya gave up a hat trick in favor of teammate James Adams, passing the puck on a 2-on-1 during their last shift of the game so Adams could get his third, and the glory.
“The downside to Tyler is he's unflashy, so unselfish, so he goes unnoticed,” McIntosh said. “Then the game happens and you realize he won the faceoff at the end of the game, laid out and blocked the shot. He made all those little plays without jumping around and showing off.
“It’s not like he's some 6-foot-4 monster who can take the puck and go coast-to-coast. It’s very subtle and hidden.”
Less hidden now. Though Rampart (10-5-1) was blown out 8-0 by Chaparral in the first round of the playoffs after a strong regular-season showing, Montoya’s senior year was one to remember.
Born and raised in the Colorado Springs area, Montoya and his three younger brothers were homeschooled by their mother. That left his schedule flexible for as much hockey as possible.
He found his way to Rampart via a lottery system, and wound up with players he’d known for years.
“He made a point to be a part of the team,” McIntosh said. “He immersed himself.”
“He's everything you want in a player when you coach. He's on time, he works his tail off.”
Many days this season, he doubled up, playing for Evolution Elite Hockey in Denver, working out there, then coming back for Rampart practice.
All in service of another big goal. Montoya wants to earn a scholarship, then go pro.
First comes juniors, and he’s been talking to several NAHL coaches, with tryouts hopefully coming up this summer.
“Tyler's learning all the extra work it takes if you want to be great at anything,” McIntosh said. “Just because you’re one of the best players in Colorado Springs doesn’t mean you’re one of the best in the country. The better you get, the harder it gets.”