Battle Mountain hockey blanks Aspen, 4-0
December 3, 2016
EAGLE — A 4-0 win is always a good thing.
A 4-0 win for Battle Mountain hockey over Aspen?
A 4-0 league victory over Aspen?
Huskies hockey is off to a quick start after dusting the Skiers on Saturday night at Eagle Pool and Ice Rink. With a tie against Steamboat Springs on Friday night, the Huskies are 1-0-1 out of the chute.
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"Three out of four points in a weekend is great," Huskies coach Dennis Hextall said.
"We set the tempo last night. The first 10 minutes, we totally controlled the game, and then we seemed to let up. Tonight, we played three hard periods. That's what we were after."
The Huskies were on the wrong end of three power-play goals on Friday night, so they made amends on Saturday against the Skiers. The Huskies were only whistled twice and killed off both penalties, while going 2-for-2 themselves on the power play.
On the first of those two advantages, defenseman Robby Gruber fed an onrushing Tanner Caldarola for a 1-0 lead late in the first period. Caldarola is off to a hot start with four goals in his first two games.
"It's definitely a team thing," Caldarola said. "Our chemistry in our line is great."
Caldarola skates with Zach Booth and Garrett Flaagan. That line is likely sticking together for a bit.
Riley Bishop and Joey Beveridge set up Gruber late in the second period. Gruber finished with a goal and two assists. That also brings up that the Huskies are suiting up two freshmen defenders — Beveridge and Parker Nash, who are learning quickly.
Of course, it helps to have a good goalie, and Declan Rooney was a perfect 26-for-26 on Saturday night.
"It's awesome, especially it being a shutout," said Rooney, who is sharing netminding duties with Max Clark. "It was a real team effort."
Defenseman Hunter Fox was in on both third-period goals, assisting Flaagan on the first and scoring the second.
With 32 teams now playing CHSAA hockey, Colorado high school teams have four eight-team conferences. That puts Battle Mountain in the Peak Conference with Resurrection Christian, Aspen, Doherty, Heritage, Cheyenne Mountain, Columbine and Pine Creek. Everybody in the Peak will play each other twice, with the Huskies heading to Aspen on Jan. 6.
All four conference winners are assured berths in the 24-team playoff field with the other 20 spots being filled out by the RPI, or rating-percentage index.
"I think we're head and shoulders above where we were last year," Rooney said. "We've got much more confidence with how we're playing. It's clicking this year."
The Huskies host Summit County in nonconference play on Thursday at 7:45 p.m. at Dobson.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.
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