Durango dispatches Battle Mountain 4-0 in Thursday boys hockey action | VailDaily.com

Durango dispatches Battle Mountain 4-0 in Thursday boys hockey action

Rematch set for Friday at 5:15 p.m. at Dobson Ice Arena

Battle Mountain played the first of two games against Durango on Thursday afternoon at Dobson Ice Arena. The teams meet again Friday night at 5:15 p.m.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

In a matchup of almost identical win-loss records, Durango landed the first big punch on Battle Mountain and never looked back. 

“They just entered the league and they came out strong,” Battle Mountain coach George Wilson said of the Demons, who came into Thursday afternoon’s hockey game with a 4-7-1 record, one loss different than the host Huskies.

“They’re hungry to show what they have.”

Three passes after winning the opening faceoff, Demon forward Loudon Doemland swung the puck from behind the goal line to Nick Best just outside the near face-off circle. Best’s right-handed slap shot went low to the left side of the net for a 1-0 lead just 26 seconds into the game. The Demons went on to win 4-0 over the Huskies at Dobson Ice Arena in the first of back-to-back contests between the Mountain League teams. 

Nick Best scored 26 seconds into Thursday afternoon’s game between Durango and Battle Mountain.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

“It was a positive game for us — the score wasn’t — we’re certainly in a slump with scoring, and that seems to be a theme for us this season,” Wilson said. “And we’ve got to get out of that slump. We’re mixing up lines, we’re trying to find the right combinations and sometimes that helps.”

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The quick score jolted the home team into action, and Battle Mountain even had two power play opportunities five minutes later. Durango’s ensuing penalty kill was emblematic of a larger first-period theme, namely the Demon’s firm control of possession and sterling confidence. 

Declan Kelly peppered the Durango net with shots on goal during the second period of Thursday afternoon’s game in Vail.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

The closest look for Battle Mountain came with 4:22 remaining, but Nate Bishop’s shot from just right of the net went high. Shortly after, Durango pounced again with two Huskies in the penalty box. Battle Mountain goalie Kaia Borski Caruso made a pair of heads-up saves, but the third time was a charm for Durango, as Brady Holbrook punched in the power play goal off a dish from Pol Cavaller with 2:09 remaining in the period.

A Husky player fires a shot on goal during the first period of Thursday’s game against Durango in Vail.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

While Durango set the first-period tone, the second belonged to the Huskies. In fact, fans are forgiven for checking to see if the Demons were in a period-long penalty kill, as the puck found a nice home in the Battle Mountain offensive zone for most of the final 11 minutes. 

“The second period we dominated and it looked really good,” Wilson said. The only problem was that the plethora of chances all came up empty.

Declan Kelly’s backhand with 10:28 to go ricocheted away. Thirty seconds later, Miles Kipp joined Kelly for a nice two-man break that came up empty when Kelly hit the ice before getting a shot off. With 8:18 to go, the Huskies had a 3-on-2, but Trevyn Delong’s shot was blocked by a Durango defender’s stick. Ollie Grems got a shot on goal shortly after and the period ended with Delong and Kirk Slaugh peppering goalie Evan Brock’s net with two more hard shots.

“Probably moving the puck, taking our opportunities,” Wilson said when asked what needs to happen to increase the scoring percentage of his team’s scoring looks. “Sometimes I think we’re holding the puck too long and they’re getting in lanes, getting their sticks and legs and bodies in the shooting lanes and we’re not able to finish good scoring opportunities.”

Battle Mountain and Durango players fight for control of the puck in front of the Durango net during the first period of Thursday afternoon’s game in Vail.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

Coming up empty in the second period didn’t deflate the Huskies, who came out fighting to start the third. When Lucas Betz found the back of the net off a nifty pass from Jake Martin, however, the dagger had been driven. Four minutes later, a loose puck squirted into the Durango offensive zone and Betz collected it right in front of Borski. A quick deke to the left opened things high and Betz popped a backhand to the back for a second straight goal, sealing the win.

Battle Mountain fell to 4-7-1 with the loss. “We’re holding onto the middle of the pack but we’re hoping for a strong showing in the next couple of games and we’ll see what we can do,” Wilson said. Both squads will battle again on Friday at Dobson, with the puck dropping at 5:15 p.m.

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