Like many hockey parents, Colorado College coach Mike Haviland now knows where he wants to be Tuesday.
His stepson TJ Farrell and the rest of the 18th-seeded Cheyenne Mountain High School Indians travel to No. 15 Pueblo County for the first round of the state playoffs at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
“I am going to try,” he said of making the game shortly after the scheduled Tigers practice ends. “I have seen a couple games and they are enjoyable to watch.”
Although his schedule rarely allows it during the season, Haviland makes it to his children’s games here and in New Jersey.
“I just sit back and watch,” he said. “I am the quiet guy in the crowd and I think that is a good way to be, I really do. I enjoy watching them play and enjoying what they’re doing. It gives you a different perspective.”
Five area teams made the new 24-team bracket, which makes the first round essentially a play-in added to the former 16-team format.
No area teams will host this postseason. The second-round games are at a top-eight seed Friday with quarterfinals Saturday.
The seedings are based on RPI, which put Lewis-Palmer (7-12) as the highest-rated area team at No. 17 and garnered it a road game at No. 16 Kent Denver (11-7-1).
“It’s our first year with RPI and we thought this was the best way to protect teams who were playoff-caliber teams while giving more teams an opportunity for the postseason,” said Indians coach Erik Austin, who is also a member of the sport’s Colorado High School Activities Association committee.
An expanded tournament prompted a quick turnaround for the road teams with most scheduled to play Tuesday after the bracket was announced Sunday morning, Austin said.
The other area seeds are: No. 21 Liberty (9-9-1), No. 22 Rampart (6-13) and No. 24 Coronado (6-13). No. 25-rated Air Academy (7-12) and No. 26 Palmer (5-14) missed the cut.
Cheyenne Mountain is focused on the Hornets (11-7-1) of the Highlands Conference. The teams did not play this regular season but scrimmaged during the preseason.
The 11-7-1 Indians of the Peak Conference are paced by their Big Three.
Senior defenseman Dakota Henn has 25 points (14 goals) to lead the state’s blue-liners, according to Austin, while forward Shawn Herlihy is second in the state with 43 points.
Junior defenseman Ryan Smith’s play has been critical since he is often matched up against the opponents’ top forwards.
“Ryan Smith is as good as they come,” Austin said after praising Henn and Herlihy. “I think the area teams are going to make some noise in the first round.”