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Here comes Air Academy

It’s time to see what these Huskies have come crunch timeLadies and germs, welcome to “The Biggest, Most-Important, Most Earthshaking, Most-Anticipated Regular Season Game in the History of Huskies Hockey, Part III.”Parts I and II, of course, were this season’s wins against Cheyenne Mountain and the hated Kent Denver.But, now we have Air Academy coming to town today at 4:15 p.m. at the Eagle Ice Rink in a matchup of the No.1 Huskies (18-0) and the No. 2 Kadets (17-1, assuming they took care of business in Steamboat Friday night) in “The Mother of all Hockey Games.”At least it’s “The Mother of all Hockey Games” until Battle Mountain inevitably meets the aforementioned Kent in the state semis. (Come on, folks. You know it’s going to happen.)The Huskies have said all the right things about “taking it one game at a time” and not looking ahead to today’s game, but whom are we kidding? Battle Mountain’s had Air Academy on the brain for two weeks.And it’s shown in the Huskies’ play. Nothing personal, guys, but you played like garbage against Summit in a 10-7 win, which pretty much should be considered a loss. There is no way in heck that any team with state-title aspirations gives up seven goals to a team like the Tigers.I’ve said it numerous times. Battle Mountain is going only as far as its defense and goaltending will go. The Huskies can score like crazy with the Austin Chow and Brad Myers lines in the regular season. But come playoff time, defenses tighten, goalies get better and hat tricks from these guys will become scarce.Austin, Brad, Casey Kleisinger, Alex Biegler and Derek Byron, you know it’s true. Evan Sherer, take my word for it. Good teams are going to try to pound you to death to knock you off your game. The state’s best have seen this in the Springs and they have the book on you.Defense is the name of the game and the playoffs start today. Today’s game will decide who carries the No. 1-seed into the postseason. That in itself doesn’t mean much.What means a lot for the Huskies is how they stack up against a good, deep (more on deep later) team after rolling through the Punch-and-Judy Metro Conference.Air Academy’s speed is going to challenge Battle Mountain’s defensive system. Goalie Karl Eklund, it’s time to return to your form against Kent and Aspen. It’s not fair, Karl, but that’s life. Your team needs you.To the blueliners – Jonathan and MacKenzie Stevens, Matt Garth, Matt Heelan, Andreas Apostol and Coulter Somes, you’ve played 18 games. You’re no longer a young defense. Growing-up time is over. Keep your man in front of you and play the body.Depth will also be a question. Looking at Air Academy on Rockypreps.com, the Kadets seem to roll four lines. Huskies coach Andy Hire has played his third and fourth lines in blowouts, but shortened it to two lines come crunch time. The Chow and Biegler lines cannot play 45 minutes against a team like the Kadets, not to mention the playoffs. It’s time to see if all lip service about getting the third and fourth lines some playing experience becomes reality.Last year’s team was thought to be “The Team” to bring it home for Battle Mountain. Once those 11 seniors graduated, the 2004-05 team, people said that it was curtains for Huskies hockey.Boys, the next five games (hopefully) are your chance to prove them all wrong.And it all starts in “The Biggest, Most Important, Most Earthshaking, Most Anticipated Regular Season Game in the History of Huskies Hockey, Part III.” Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.


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