Headline: Huskies ready for state semis | VailDaily.com

Headline: Huskies ready for state semis

Byline: Chris Freud

In the brief history of Battle Mountain hockey, the Huskies have developed a great rivalry with the Sun Devils. Battle Mountain and Kent will be meeting for the fourth time in two years and, for the second-consecutive year, the two teams are hooking up in the state semis.

The puck drops at 7:05 p.m. at the Air Force Academy.

“We know they’re a good team and they know we’re a good team,” Huskies captain P.J. Bevan said. “I think we match up pretty evenly. They’re going to come hard. We just have to come harder.”

There has been no lack of drama in this series. The two teams first met in a regular-season game last February at Dobson Arena. It was Michael Medina’s controversial goal with 3:37 left in regulation lifted Battle Mountain into a 2-2 tie with Kent Denver.

Regulation wasn’t enough for the two teams in last year’s semifinal, which Battle Mountain won 4-3. Huskies blueliner Brock Hovey – with a little help on an Austin Chow tip – ended it in double overtime.

The Huskies and Sun Devils met in December in nonconference play at Dobson and Battle Mountain emerged with a lackluster 2-1 win. In fact, Huskies coach Jade Kersey gave one of his postgame three stars to Kent for taking the Huskies out of their game.

“I didn’t think we played particularly well and I think what Kent Denver did well in that game was basically make us play their game,” Kersey said. “I think in order for us to be successful we have to do the things that we do well. It’s going to be a battle to see who can dictate the play.”

Kent Denver is a big team and size can give Battle Mountain problems. But the old adage of “You can’t hit what you can’t catch” certainly applies to the Huskies.

“When we are in their end, we’ve got to make sure we’re going into the corners with speed,” Kersey said. “Because, if we go into the corners with speed and continue to keep our feet moving, it’s going to make it difficult for them to get a bead on us and finish those checks.”

You can also add quick puck movement through the neutral zone to the coach’s wish list, as well.

In the other semifinal, it’s defending state champ Cheyenne Mountain vs. Aspen at 5:05 p.m. Cheyenne is ranked No. 1 in the state, but the Skiers handed the Indians their only loss of the season.

“That’s going to be a very interesting game,” Kersey said. “Obviously, Aspen has the mental edge in the fact that they did actually beat them. Cheyenne Mountain knows that they can be beaten by Aspen. I think that Cheyenne Mountain’s got a little more depth. But I think Aspen can match their high-end talent. So it’s going to be very interesting to see what happens there.”

Ice Chips: KZYR 97.7 FM is broadcasting tonight’s game. We think Eric Licktieg should win an Emmy for color commentary. … Keegan Keltner will be available this weekend for the Huskies. … Though the terror alert has been lowered from orange to yellow (Is that a sign that Tom Ridge likes the Huskies?), security remains tight at the Air Force Academy. Those attending the game should make sure to bring proper ID. Bags for spectators are prohibited and prepare for a delay upon arrival.

Chris Freud is the sports editor of the Vail Daily and can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614, or via e-mail at cfreud@vaildaily.com.

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