Huskies make it 19-0
EAGLE – It was a mob scene in the lobby of the Eagle Ice Rink and Pool after No. 1 Battle Mountain hockey’s nail-biter of a 4-3 win over No. 2 Air Academy Saturday night. Huskies’ fans formed a victory lane for the team and each Battle Mountain player was greeted with a roar of approval.After Saturday’s game, there is so much to celebrate – a perfect 19-0 regular season and the No. 1-seed in the upcoming playoffs – and so much to be done – four wins for an elusive state championship.Saturday’s game shows that the Huskies have the talent to go all the way, by taking a 4-0 lead with 11:10 left in regulation. Saturday’s game also showed that there is parity among the state’s elite squads as the Kadets stormed back with three goals before the Huskies turned them back in the waning seconds.”We knew they were going to be a fast, speedy, strong, skilled team,” said Austin Chow, who had a goal and three assists. “We came out prepared for the best. We came out flying, got a good hop out of the gate and we played our game tonight. We got the W and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see them again.”Quick jump
The Huskies looked much more like themselves for the first 30 minutes against Air Academy than they have the last few games. With 12:24 left in the first, Chow crushed a shot from the slot. Air Academy’s Alex Harbison turned it away, but right to Evan Sherer who did the honors.Harbison continued to give up big rebounds, and minutes later Chow pounced on an Alex Biegler shot and made it 2-0.”That’s basically where we won the game. It was 4-3, but scoring two goals in the first period was how we won the game,” Myers said. “That was huge for us. The first line did their job. We didn’t have Casey (Kleisinger, serving a penalty from the end of Wednesday’s Summit game) for the first 10 minutes, but Barrett Chow did a great job filling in for him.”The PKYes, the Huskies had a strong opening, but one could also argue that their penalty kill was a key to victory. At one point in the first period, Battle Mountain had 100-plus points sitting in the box with Austin Chow and Myers in the sin bin. But Air Academy was 0-for-6 on the power play and Battle Mountain denied the Kadets on two 5-on-3s.”Hustle, basically. We don’t lay back too much,” Sherer said. “We attacked them, went after them and made them make the mistakes and we were able to ice the puck.”Chow and Derek Byron practiced what Sherer preached. Chow sprang Byron. Byron deked to his left and found an opening on the right for a shorthanded goal and a 3-0 lead.
When Johnny Stevens crushed a one-timer from Chow from the point early in the third for a 4-0 lead, the Huskies appeared to be cruising.’Chaos’And then, Air Academy started to play as advertised. The Kadets responded with two goals in the next two minutes from Brad Edelberg. Air Academy killed off a four-minute minor and then kept applying the pressure.”They controlled possession. They took a lot of risks,” Huskies coach Andy Hire said of the Kadets’ surge. “They were going full-go and they had a lot of situations which were risk-reward for them. We had a lot of chances to clear the puck and didn’t quite clear it. It could have easily gone the other way. We spring guys loose because they’re pinching all the time. Our guys played well.”But it got even closer with 1:43 left when Daniel Jones brought Air Academy within one.”Chaos,” Myers said. “It was just trying to keep that puck from going into the net. (Goalie) Karl (Eklund) did a great job in the last minute. Everybody out there was out there digging, winning the battles.”
The No. 1-seedThe Huskies escaped with the win and with it the No. 1-seed, barring a total brain seizure by CHSAA, as Battle Mountain has a two-game lead on the rest of the state. CHSAA will announce the brackets today on http://www.chsaa.org.”That No. 1-seed’s big because going down the road there’s a lot of tough teams,” Hire said. “It’s not just four teams. There’s a solid 10 teams in this league. No. 1 is a huge advantage for us. It gives us big self esteem going into it, too.”Battle Mountain will likely be assigned to the Aspen regional. Round 1 must be played by Friday and Round 2 by Saturday. Traditionally, the first two rounds of the playoffs are played back-to-back.”It’s certainly not our main objective,” Chow said of the No. 1-seed. “But to have a perfect regular season, it feels good because you have momentum heading into the playoffs.”Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado