Thomas Jefferson

High School | Home of the Spartans

New Team on the Block

Posted 12/17/2015 by Annie McAninch

photo courtesy of Steve Van Sky

The district’s newly created ice hockey team is sure to impress.

Denver East High School and Thomas Jefferson High School’s newest winter sport has only been in existence for a year now, but most of the kids on the team have played together for a long time. The team had an incredible season last winter, with an 11-8 record and 7-4 league record. They went to the playoffs and lost a heartbreaker to Dakota Ridge High School 3-1 in the first round.

TJ junior Quentin Kleiner, a defensive player for the team, has played for the East/Thomas Jefferson team for two seasons now, and is excited to be representing TJ during the hockey season. “Last year was really fun, it’s a lot of guys that I know so we really bonded well. It was a good experience.” Denver East’s Athletic Director, Lisa Porter, is very excited about this year’s season. The team is hoping to be even more competitive than last year. “The DPS/Denver East Ice Hockey program is in its second year, and we are continuing to take steps forward so that anyone who attends a Denver Public School or lives in the DPS boundary can play CHSAA sanctioned Ice Hockey. We want to give all Denver kids the opportunity to compete against other CHSAA Ice Hockey teams across the state,” explained Porter.

The team’s first game was Friday, December 11th, against the non-conference Columbine Rebels. Denver East won 4-3. Last year, the East Angels won against Columbine 3-0. At the time of the season, the Angels were 5-1; since TJ’s hockey team is relatively new, they don’t have established rivals yet. The closest rivals would be Denver Kent High School and Regis Jesuit High School. Varsity head coach John Kopperud is looking forward to coaching the combined Denver East/Thomas Jefferson team this year. Although it is his first year coaching for this team, he has coached many others, including The Colorado Thunderbirds and Evolution Club; he is the general manager for Evolution, and has coached other teams ranging from 16U to 18U. “There’s a ton of passion from these boys; they work hard and TJ is very proud of them,” said athletic director Andrew Skari.

The boys are hoping to go to the State Playoffs, and bring back home a trophy. In the next couple of years, the Denver East/Thomas Jefferson hockey team hopes to be the best of the best.