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River Rats beaten in shootout for state championship

Mar 6, 2014 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports Editor

The Riverton River Rats, a high school-aged hockey team, placed third Sunday at the state tournament in Casper.

After beating Sheridan in the first game of the round-robin tournament, Riverton lost to Gillette in an overtime shootout 3-2.

Riverton defeated Sheridan 8-3 in the third-place game.

The two-day tournament was played at the Casper Ice Arena.

The four players in their final season for Riverton were Ian McMenamy, Logan Hartbank, Lars Becker and Wyatt Griffin.

Jace Hanson, Ty Woodward, and Toby and Brian Lewis are the other seniors. They all have one season of eligibility left under the league's age rules.

Riverton's Tristan White was one of the top scorers in the state.

"Everybody on that team is special," Riverton coach Lee Hanson said. "They all have a lot of heart and desire. All of them are a good leaders."

Casper edged Gillette in overtime for the state title.

"Anybody could have won the tournament," Hanson said.

Close battle

Gillette and Riverton were knotted at 2-2 at the end of regulation.

"We had the same shots on goal with 29," coach Hanson said. "It was a really good game. Gillette just had the luck."

Hanson said the shootout is made up of five skaters from each team. Gillette made one goal and Riverton didn't make any.

"It was pretty tough, but that was the game that we had to win," Hanson said. "It was about as close as it can get."

The Riverton goalies in the tournament were Wyatt Griffin and Brian Lewis.

"They were some really good saves in the game on both ends," Hanson said. "A goaltender is no good if you don't have a defense in front of him."

Hanson said the spectators watching the game came away impressed.

"They said it was clean hitting," Hanson said. "The ref we had said it was the best game he had ever seen in Wyoming."

Hanson thanked all the players and parents involved in the hockey program.

Competition

After playing in a regular season, the top four teams advanced to play in the round-robin format in Casper.

"It was the best competition in the state," Hanson said.

Riverton finished second in the league behind Casper A team. The Gillette team was third. Riverton defeated Gillette a couple of times in the regular season on the home ice.

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