Battle Mountain hockey back on track
VAIL – It took only four-and-a-half seconds for the Battle Mountain hockey team to let Aspen know things would be different than the last time to two teams met. After the Huskies scored an early goal, they added another to take a 2-0 lead, but the Skiers came back and earned a 2-2 overtime tie Tuesday at Dobson Arena.The game started with what is likely the fastest Battle Mountain goal ever. Aspen’s Ryder Fyrwald won the opening faceoff, but the Huskies’ Kodi Wyatt tipped the puck forward, and an Aspen defender bodychecked Wyatt, giving the Huskies’ Barrett Chow a breakaway.Chow rifled the puck over Aspen goalie Kody Hornberg’s glove to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead.”We had to jump on them because last time (we played), Aspen scored four goals on us early and put us away,” Chow said.Battle Mountain coach Gary Defina was pleased with the Huskies’ quick start.”In about half of our games, we’ve had bad first periods, but not tonight,” Defina said. “We came out flying, and that’s what we need to do from here on out.”
Midway through the first period, Battle Mountain’s Jason Funk gave his team a 2-0 lead. After an Aspen defensive miscue behind the net, the Huskies’ Sam Sterling moved the puck to Funk, who skated in front of the Aspen net and slipped the puck past Hornberg.As the first period came to an end, Aspen used a power play goal to cut Battle Mountain’s lead in half. Aspen’s Sam Harder sent a shot from the point that Battle Mountain goalie Foster Fox put aside, but Matt Cooper was there to jam home the rebound.”We’ve been having some trouble with our power play, spent a lot of time working on it,” said Aspen coach Mark LeRose. “I was really happy we chipped on in today.”Aspen’s second goal came in the second period when Wylie Melberg fed a pass from behind the net to a wide open Fyrwald, who quickly buried the puck past Fox. End to endIn the third period and overtime, both teams went back and forth, exerting offensive pressure on each other.An Aspen penalty with 2:38 left in regulation gave Battle Mountain a chance to move ahead, but the Huskies weren’t able to get any quality scoring chances on the power play.
The best chance of overtime came with 14 seconds remaining when Battle Mountain’s Derek Byron moved in on Hornberg and snapped a wrist shot that Hornberg snagged with his glove.After the ensuing faceoff in the Aspen zone, the Skiers rushed the puck into the Huskies’ zone and nearly slid the puck past Fox with two seconds remaining, but nobody from either team could escape the melee in front of Fox to get a stick on the puck.”It was a great hockey game. It was fun for us to watch,” Defina said. “There were two evenly matched teams, and it could have gone either way.”When Battle Mountain opened its season at Aspen, the Skiers handled the Huskies, 8-4.”They’ve really improved, and they are missing a few key players,” LeRose said. “They will be a big threat come playoff time.”In Tuesday’s game, both teams had three power play opportunities, with Aspen going 1-for-3 and Battle Mountain going 0-for-3. The Skiers peppered Fox with 26 shots, while the Huskies put 23 shots on Hornberg.LeRose was impressed with how Hornberg shut down the Huskies after allowing two early goals.”He keeps us in games,” LeRose said. “He’s really stepped up recently and made a statement.”
Fox was sharp at the other end, making key saves late in the game and in overtime to preserve the tie.The game marked an improvement for the Huskies, who struggled on the road the past few games.”I would have preferred smoking Aspen,” the Huskies’ Jonny Stevens said. “But it was a fun game and we were working hard, which is important coming off a few games that were iffy.”Battle Mountain will be at Dobson again Friday against Pueblo at 7:30 p.m.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14631, or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado