The patient, persistent approach of a deep senior class is finally paying off for Rampart hockey.
The Rams and their group of roughly 15 seniors are off to an 11-5 start, good for 9-4 and third place in the Highlands Conference.
Rampart won 14 times combined the previous three seasons.
“Four years ago, we had this year circled,” said Rampart coach Josh McIntosh before listing key positions occupied by seniors.
Senior Chase Allen has logged most of the minutes in goal and is protected by senior defensemen.
Tyler Montoya, a senior forward, leads the team with 44 points and leads the state with 25 assists heading into Saturday’s second meeting with Crested Butte.
The Titans won the first meeting 5-4 after scoring in the final minutes, but the Rams have won six straight since.
“We feel really confident going into these next games,” Montoya said.
Montoya’s 19th goal of the season extended the streak Monday.
The Rams were down two men in the third period of a 4-4 game with Coronado before a faceoff in their own end.
Montoya lost the draw, but the Cougars failed to control the puck. He slipped around his opponent, chipped the puck between the converging defensemen and raced toward goal where he beat the goalie blocker high for the game-winner that completed his hat trick.
“It was filthy,” McIntosh said.
Montoya gets help from junior Braden Overholt (12 goals, 16 assists), senior Trevor Jesse (10 goals, seven assists) and senior James Adams (eight goals, 11 assists), who led the team in scoring last season.
Adams missed time early this season but is happy for his frequent linemate.
“I’m extremely happy for him. I hope he keeps going,” said Adams of Montoya, teammates since middle school.
“He deserves it."
What the Rams want more than individual accolades, however, is a playoff run.
“The team’s goal is to be final four,” Montoya said.
It’s a lofty dream for a program experiencing its first double-digit win season since 2009-10.
“It’s possible. I mean, it’s going to be incredibly hard, obviously,” McIntosh said.
“Hockey has a funny way of work ethic trumping talent, passion just trumping the logic.”
The Rams built from the three-win campaign when their best players were freshmen to five wins the following year.
Last season was expected to be the start of better times, but the Rams only added one win.
“We were pretty talented, but we had to learn how to win,” McIntosh said. “We lost a lot of really close games.”
Adams and Montoya said their minds frequently drifted to the future during their first couple of years. Now in their final season as Rams, they’re making the most of the present.
“We’ve had that experience throughout the years and learned from our mistakes,” Montoya said. “It’s just a big group sticking together and getting better chemistry.”
"This is the best team we’ve had in like the longest time," Adams added. "It’s amazing."