Steamboat Springs At one point it seemed like a tough decision, but Steamboat Springs High School senior Vladan Chase knew relatively early what his goal would be with the high school hockey team.
Chase, who was on the developmental team his sophomore year and didn’t play his junior year, saw an opportunity this season to do something special. So at the urging of his parents and his brother, Dmitry, Chase decided to again give high school hockey a try.
“My brother kept saying I was good enough,” Chase said. “He kept saying I should be playing at that level.”
The decision now seems like an easy one.
Chase is second on the team with seven points. He’s averaging less than a point a game and leads the team in assists with five.
And that goal Chase is after seems pretty simple, too.
“I want to win state,” Chase said. “Coming in here, that’s why I’m here. I have one year. I don’t want to be just first or second round. I want to win state.”
During his sophomore season on the developmental team, Chase worked with the varsity but took a trip to Czech Republic during the season. His junior year, Chase played with the Steamboat Midget team. With no Midget team this season and the challenge of playing for the varsity in his sights, Chase said he decided to try.
Although the season started slowly for Chase, he’s rapidly becoming one of Steamboat’s most effective players.
“He brings real good hands from his tennis activity,” Steamboat coach Jeff Ruff said about Chase, who won a third-place medal at state at No. 4 doubles his junior season. “He brings good size and speed. He brings a smiling face to the locker room. The guys like him. He’s quick with a smile and quick with a joke. He’s a great guy to have on the team.”
Maybe even more so than his infectious personality, Chase has given the Sailors something they sorely needed.
As the season started, Jake Bearss and the top line contributed most of the scoring. Ruff has said on multiple occasions that for Steamboat to be a team that not only makes the playoffs but also pushes to get into the Final Four, the Sailors have to get contributions from more than one line.
Now, Bearss centers one line and leads the team with 11 points. Chase centers another line and is second on the team in points.
“When our No. 1 scorer and No. 2 scorer are centers on different lines, other teams have to figure out who are we going to put our best line against,” Ruff said. “It makes it easier for us to roll a couple lines against their top line. We don’t drop any skill from our top two lines. Having two lines capable of scoring poses lots of problems for other teams.”
And it might get better for Steamboat and Chase. As the season progresses, Chase is expected to center a line of Kaelen Gunderson and Jon Winkelblech, two players he’s played with for years.
That, plus Chase’s realization that he can not only play but prosper at this level, has Steamboat right in the mix as a team expected to make the Final Four and possibly go further.
“I’m looking and playing to be that playmaker,” Chase said. “I’m looking for that pass and always picking my head up. I love to feed those guys on my line.”