Mason Peterson's love for hockey just got a major shot in the arm. For there is a lot less pressure playing the game for the game itself now that he knows baseball is more his future.
Not that joining the Monarch Coyotes hockey team doesn't have its fair share of pressure situations. That comes with the territory of being in the state championship game three years running.
But Peterson, a Longmont High senior who played Tier I club hockey and recently signed to play college baseball for the Colorado School of Mines, wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to renew some old friendships while vying for a state title at the same time.
"I thought it might be a tough decision, but it turned out to be pretty easy," Peterson said recently about playing for the Coyotes. "I missed a lot of the guys I played with when I was younger ... and the chance to play great hockey with all of them really did make for an easy decision."
Peterson might be the only Longmont-area player for the Coyotes (there are a couple of Niwot High students, as well), but he's been a staple at Boulder Valley Ice at Superior since his youth.
He grew up playing in the Boulder Hockey Club organization, honing his skills to the point where he happily joined the Rocky Mountain Roughriders — a Tier I team that is considered a major step in turning into a collegiate or professional hockey player.
What comes with that is a load of work and dedication — "it's a job, and really a grind a lot of the time," Monarch head coach Jimmy Dexter said — and Peterson had no regrets about playing that level of hockey.
But it became clear that the added years of playing juniors before getting a chance to play college hockey, typical in the process, was not something Peterson was interested in. The baseball scholarship with Mines soon came up, too, and that drove Peterson toward some other options.
"Hockey was my love growing up, but when you learn a little bit more about what it takes to go (Division I) and those extra couple years of juniors ... I didn't want to prolong my education," Peterson said. "The Roughriders was great for me and taught me a lot of character. But the opportunity came up with baseball, and even though I have to travel a bit to get down there (to play for Monarch), it's much shorter when you love doing it. I want to have a great last season."
Dexter was pleased to get Peterson in the MHS pipeline, even if only for a year.
"I knew him playing Tier I that he'd have an impact on our team, so I was excited to get that chance to add him," Dexter said. "I've known him for years with Boulder Hockey, and even though I didn't coach him a lot I knew his family.
"He's a dynamic skater, just so fast and aggressive. He's got a motor, and he's a great penalty-killer. Great strength and a great shot. We have a few more kids that might be more skilled, but his shot can be scary good."
The Northern League's baseball player of the year and a BoCoPreps.com all-region first team selection as an infielder for the Trojans in 2015, Peterson has already tallied some pretty solid numbers for the Coyotes after they improved to 6-0 on Tuesday with a 3-2 win over Dakota Ridge.
Paired with Andrew Pickner and Blake Bride, Peterson has three goals and six points in about four and a half games (he was injured against Mountain Vista and missed some action).
But for the future Oredigger, the only thing that matters is that the Coyotes keep on winning.
"I'm just hoping I can help them reach that final goal of a state championship this year and take home the prize," Peterson said.