Huskies crush Coronado, 11-1
Midway through the first period of Friday night’s first-round, state-playoff game between Battle Mountain and Coronado, Dobson’s P.A. announcer J.R. Rulapaugh announced, “Please do not hang from the light fixtures.”
There was very little elbow room at Dobson Friday night. Nearly 2,000 fans jammed the arena, sitting in the stands, hanging from the catwalks and milling in the standing-room-only area on the south side of the ice.
And the Huskies sent everybody home happy with an absolutely resounding 11-1 win over the Cougars, which sets up Round 2 today at 3:30 p.m. against Liberty, who beat Steamboat Springs, 6-3, earlier in the evening.
The Huskies stuck a seven-spot on the Cougars in the first period. So, with the matter settled, the Huskies played by Kersey’s Rule – only players who hadn’t scored this year were allowed to score.
Enter Jeff Savonen. The Huskies tried to get the senior his first career high school goal against Mitchell a little more than a week ago. He didn’t get it and was despondent after the game.
“It was kind of like your heart’s been ripped out,” Savonen said.
Well, his ticker is just fine now. Austin Chow and Jason Chase found Savonen in front of the net and Savonen shelved it.
“Oh, God, it was just crazy,” Savonen said. “I remember just shooting the puck in. It was just a snap shot that went top shelf. I was so excited at the time. My stick was on the ground and I couldn’t lift it. So, I just left it and went to join the boys.”
Savonen was effusive in his praise for all of teammates’ efforts to get him this long elusive goal. And, the entire team celebrated with him. The players on the ice jumped him. The bench went nuts. Even the normally reserved head coach was jumping up and down.
“It was a great goal, at that,” coach Jade Kersey said. “He got himself in the right position. He beat the goaltender top corner and, for his one and only goal of his career, it’s a beautiful goal to remember.”
Not to be out done, sophomore Chris Chase also picked up his first high school goal a minute later.
“(Derek) Byron passed to Matt (Heelan) in front of the corner and it kicked off Matt’s stick to me and I just shot it in,” Chase said. “I didn’t see the puck in the net. I just heard the whistle and just said, “YES!'”
The Huskies needed a few minutes to get their legs in the first period, but once the Huskies got going, it was a sight to see. Casey Kleisinger ripped a slapper from the slot on a helper from Max Miller for a 1-0 lead.
Jason Chase and Coulter Somes fed Keith Denton just 26 seconds later and Dent put it top shelf. Just after Rulapaugh had announced Denton’s goal, Brad Myers struck, courtesy of Chow and Greg Garman.
With 8:29 left in the first, Kleisinger scored again, this time from Adam Weiss. It was 5-0 when Nate Simon lit the lamp with the assists going to Miller and Howdy Tuthill. Weiss was on the scoring end when he got a nice feed from Turi Olson. Denton then scored his second of the game with Savonen assisting.
Keegan Keltner from Tuthill and Alex Biegler made it 8-0. Late in the third, Chase to Chow wrapped the rout.
And, all of this left a packed house very happy.
“It was a fantastic crowd,” Kersey said. “We’ve got to thank all of our local radio stations and TV networks and Dickie Dunne for getting the word out. The fans were absolutely fantastic. They came out and, even in an 11-1 win, we saw quite a bit of people stuck around to the end. Any of those fans who come out for tomorrow’s game are going to see one heck of a hockey game.”
Tomorrow is now today and that means the Huskies face Liberty with a berth in the state semifinals. Liberty gave Battle Mountain quite a scare Feb. 13, before the Huskies came away with a 6-4 win. So, the Huskies expect a tight one today.
“They’re a tough opponent,” Denton said. “We’re going to come out and play with intensity. We kind of underestimated them last time. We’ve got a lot of respect for them.”
Kersey’s three stars of the game were 1) Savonen, 2) Coronado’s seniors and 3) the fans.
Liberty 6, Steamboat Springs 3
Now, it gets fun.
Liberty doubled up Steamboat, 6-3, in the opener of Friday’s state-playoff doubleheader at Dobson. And, it was a big win for the Lancers.
“Absolutely huge,” Liberty coach Walt Aufderheide said. “Since our state championship year (in 2001), this is our first playoff win and against a very good team. We stuck ourselves in the eight-nine game last year and, gosh darn it, if we didn’t do it this year with a different result. So, it’s big.”
Liberty got two goals each from Jeff Stewart and Andrew Turner. Chris Zaremba and Scott Anderson also scored for the Lancers.
Steamboat, as always, got solid goaltending from former Huskies goaltender Cooper Lee, who stopped 36 shots in his final high school game.
After losing twice to the Huskies in Metro Conference play this year, the Lancers are doubtless primed for some revenge today.
“I could throw every cliche in the book – to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best,” Aufderheide said. “We knew that if our goal of winning the state championship were to become realized that we’d run into these guys eventually. So, let’s get it on.”
The puck drops at 3:30 p.m.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.