The Gazette Hockey Peak Performer of the Year: Christian Perry, Lewis-Palmer

Photo - Lewis-Palmer's Christian Perry is the hockey Peak Performerof the Year.  Sunday, March 12, 2017.  Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette
Lewis-Palmer's Christian Perry is the hockey Peak Performerof the Year. Sunday, March 12, 2017. Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette

As former Lewis-Palmer ice hockey coach Hal Jordan describes it, when it's time to pick the all-state player of the year, the 32 Colorado high school hockey coaches meet. They go around and everyone usually puts forth and defends their best player.

This year, several of the top teams in the state - including Ralston Valley and state champion Monarch - didn't bother.

Is there any debate about this? Jordan recalls Regis Jesuit coach Dan Woodley asking. "'It's obviously the L-P kid.'"

"The L-P kid" would be Christian Perry, The Gazette's Peak Performer of the Year for ice hockey for the second straight year. Perry put up 38 points (23 goals, 15 assists) through the regular season and second round of the state playoffs to cap a record-setting prep career.

"The L-P kid" lives in Peyton and is a senior at Peyton High School, and helps his father frame houses on the weekends for extra cash. He put many miles on his truck headed to and from Monument, where he guided the Rangers through a transitional year and trained to become the best high school player in the state.

"He doesn't talk much, but when it's time to talk, everyone shuts up and listens," Jordan said.

Perry started playing inline hockey at four, as his father was - and still is - an avid inline player and coach. The close-knit family's yearly vacation was to an inline competition. Perry wasn't talked into giving ice hockey a try until he was 11 years old.

Now college hockey is the goal. Perry has several junior teams interested and is headed to an in-state showcase soon. Most college hockey players go to juniors before playing college hockey.

"It's kind of crazy," Perry said. "I kind of don't know what to expect. High school was pretty cool, and I don't want to stop now.

"I just wanted to play with my dad. He's competitive, and that's how I came to be who I am."

His father, Stephen, called it "extremely exciting" to watch the eldest of his three sons excel at the sport they both love.

"If (junior hockey) happens, it happens. I'm not going to hold him back obviously, but this is all new for us.

"We didn't realize he'd take to it this well. It's going to be a culture shock for sure."

Lewis-Palmer will certainly miss leaders Perry - who shattered several school records - and second-team all-state selection Noah Vanderbeck, the starting goaltender. The Rangers moved to a new, powerhouse conference and started the regular season 0-6, but finished with seven wins.

"Not one of the players dropped their shoulders, and most of that was because of Christian Perry," Jordan said.

Jordan fondly remembers another story from a game against Ralston Valley, which Jordan's teams hadn't beaten in his previous three years at the school. The Rangers dropped down 4-0 early and rallied to win 5-4.

"I talked to our seniors at the first period break, and Noah said, 'We'll see what we can do.' See what we can do? We're on pace to lose 12-0! But they beat them almost by themselves.

"That was a turning point for us. From then on, we knew we could compete with everyone."

The Perry family isn't done with Lewis-Palmer yet. Daniel, 14, was the captain of the Rangers' junior varsity team this season. Jordan said Daniel is bigger and stronger, and he didn't think Christian ever missed one of his brother's JV games.

"The L-P kid" left his mark and has exciting potential changes ahead, but isn't forgetting where his roots are.

"I think it was well worth it," Perry said. "With all that I've kind of done, I feel like I left it out on the table. With what I've been given, I feel like I kind of made the most out of it.

"I don't regret any decision I made playing for them. I loved it. I'm gonna miss it for sure."