Battle Mountain scales Peak to Peak
VAIL – The man attraction Friday night at Dobson Arena was the Vail Ski Patrol-Vail Rugby Football Club men’s league hockey game. After all, when else do you get to see rugby players like Greg Tarpey, Phil Bennett, Cameron Turner and Ronnie Harris on skates?Friday’s undercard was a delight for the local fans as well as Battle Mountain skated Peak to Peak out of the arena in a 6-1 win.Puma hypePeak to Peak, a first-year team based out of Boulder, entered the season with a lot of hype and some lofty preseason rankings. Whether or not the Pumas were at full strength Friday night – some of their players were at holiday-weekend tournaments – the Huskies showed that games are won on the ice and not in print.”We definitely didn’t under-prepare,” Huskies coach Andy Hire said. “We knew that they were going to be one of the better teams in the state. We were very focused all week. We had a great week of practice. We treated them as a Cheyenne, Air Academy or Kent Denver. They had a lot of press early. They have the talent. I just don’t think they had the numbers.”
The Huskies were ready for whomever Peak to Peak brought. Hire gave the second line of Casey Kleisinger, Brad Myers and Derek Byron the start and the trio showed that it was most deserving.With 10:43 left in the first and Battle Mountain on the power play, Austin Chow’s shot was blocked, but No. 91 was right there. Myers put back the rebound with his patented nose for the puck.The same line gave the Huskies a 2-0 lead late in the first when Byron and Myers played Tic-tac-toe with Kleisinger getting the pretty goal.All three members of this line scored when Byron, courtesy of Turi Olson, tallied Battle Mountain’s final goal of the evening.”Today, they tried to match lines with our first line. It didn’t work out for them. Our second line is just as good,” Hire said. “They’re playing well together. It’s Brad with the two youngsters. Brad’s got the great leadership quality to lead those two on. They flow pretty well.”Turn on the ACWith the Myers line going great guns, the Huskies were able to have offensive balance. Though it was about 15 degrees outside Dobson, Battle Mountain turned on the AC on the Pumas – Austin Chow, that is.
Every team in the state knows he’s coming, and sometimes like Friday night, it doesn’t matter. Chow netted his second hat trick of the season.”Feels good. We just wanted to come out rolling,” Chow said. “We were shooting it around. We had some good plays today. (Alex Biegler and Evan Sherer) have been as good as anyone else in the league this year. If they focus on one player on our line, the other two going to pick them apart.”The Huskies needed all of 24 seconds on the power play in the second. Jonathan Stevens to Kleisinger to Chow was goal No. 1 for No. 11. With 3:59 left in the middle period, Biegler deftly dumped the puck back to Chow whose slapper lit the lamp.Early in the third, Chow unassisted sealed the deal.The D and the EThe Huskies’ defense and goaltending will determine how far this year’s team goes. And Friday night, they were up to the task. Stevens, Andreas Apostal, Matt Garth, Matt Heelan and Coulter Somes bottled up the Pumas nicely. Peak to Peak’s only goal came when it had a 5-on-3 advantage in the second period.
“They give me all the help I need,” goalie Karl Eklund said. “I can’t ask anymore from them. They’re doing their job and they’re great.”Eklund was definitely tested Friday night and “E” had one of his best games of the season.”In high school hockey you can have the best forwards and the best defensemen, but without a goalie, you’re nothing,” Hire said. “Karl’s been playing absolutely awesome throughout the year. We challenge him in practice. He’s got to go against Austin, Alex, Evan and Casey. He’s got to go against all those guys in practice and they’re a great test for him.”Ice chipsWednesday’s canceled game against Bishop Machebeuf has been rescheduled for Jan. 28 at 6:30 p.m. at Dobson. … Battle Mountain moved to 9-0 with the win. The Huskies return to Metro play tonight with Palmer at 6 at Dobson. … Hire was in a giving mood when it came to his three stars – 1) goalies, 2) forwards and 3) defensemen. … Vail RFC vs. Ski Patrol, Coach? “I would have to go with rugby. And my defensive partner from high school is playing on the rugby team. He saved me a couple of times back in the days.” … The Vail Daily says that the Ski Patrol wins the game, but the Vail RFC takes the postgame.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614 or email@example.com.