Bantam A’s win Divide League title
The Vail Bantam A’s went to Laramie, Wyo., last weekend and fought their way back through the loser’s bracket and brought home the Divide League championship.
The journey for the title started Friday evening as Vail took on the Fort Collins Junior Eagles, 6-2. Barrett Chow took charge early, netting his first of three goals 21 seconds into the contest. The assists went to MacKenzie Stevens and Casey Kleisinger.
Only two minutes later Chow registered another thanks to a sweet pass from Kleisinger. It was a 2-on-1 breakaway and Kleisinger faked the slap shot, then slid the puck over to a wide-open Chow who buried the one-timer. Vail kept the pressure on as Kodi Wyatt added a power play goal off a feed from Kleisinger and next Kleisinger scored off a pass from John Ryan Melzer to close out the first period with a 4-0 advantage.
Vail coasted from there with Chow earning the hat trick off a Kleisinger rebound and Jason Funk adding a goal off a Ben Godec assist to close out Vail’s scoring.
Goalie Foster Fox was strong in goal earning the victory.
The Mountaineers next game was a 4-0 loss to Steamboat Saturday morning. The loss set up a do-or-die game against Aspen Saturday.
Aspen pulled out to a 2-0 advantage in the first period before Kleisinger got Vail on the board off an assist from Wyatt. After a scoreless second, Wyatt then knotted the score in the third with the assists going to Kleisinger and Chow. With eight minutes to play in the game, Andreas Apostol made an outstanding play at the blueline to keep the puck in the zone. He then passed the puck up the boards to Wyatt who found Chow open in the slot.
Chow one-timed the pass into the back of the net, scoring what proved to be the game winning goal earning the Mountaineers a 3-2 victory and a rematch with Steamboat Sunday morning.
Needing to win two games against a team they hadn’t beaten all season, the Mountaineers won, 4-1, in the morning game.
It was once again Chow scoring off a feed from Wyatt to get Vail on the board. Godec then added another goal, off a great play by Taylor Beairsto. Beairsto stripped the puck from a Steamboat defender and advanced it to Godec who beat the goalie with some slick stick work to put Vail up, 2-0.
The second started with Wyatt scoring on tough sharp angle wrist shot which he roofed thanks to a Kleisinger assist. Kleisinger then closed out Vail’s scoring taking a pass from Melzer deep in Vail’s defensive zone and racing the distance for a breakaway goal. Fox was outstanding in net giving up only a late goal to lose the shutout.
The morning win set up a set up the title game and, this time, Steamboat came out inspired. After a scoreless first period, the Braves scored two quick goals. The momentum started to shift Vail’s way when Kleisinger was able to get a short-handed breakaway goal thanks to nice cross ice pass from Niklas Porter.
Vail went into the third down by one, until halfway through the third period when Kleisinger again netted a short-handed breakaway goal. This time it was Blake Armstrong making the play to set it up.
With six minutes to play in regulation, the Mountaineers ended up playing the rest of the game in a short handed situation. The hero was Fox, who stood on his head in goal stopping all seven shots on Steamboat’s three power -play opportunities.
The game headed into overtime when Kleisinger took a pass from Wyatt in the slot and shot a laser into the back of the net, giving Kleisinger a hat trick and the Mountaineers the league crown.
Coach Barry Biegler was proud of the heart the kids played with over the weekend in battling back to win the championship. Biegler was helped on the bench by assistant Scott Hovey. The team manager is Beth Chow and is sponsored by the Beaver Creek Resort Company. The team next plays for the Federation Cup March 21.