Huskies slam Kent Denver, 5-1
Vail, CO ColoradoVAIL – It was time for a little old-time hockey Saturday night at Dobson.In a performance reminiscent of Battle Mountain hockey’s short, but storied history, the Huskies took to the ice and simply buried an opponent. Unlike their predecessors, though, the Huskies did so against their archrivals Kent Denver, putting up a three-spot in the first period and rolling to a 5-1 rout of the visiting Sun Devils.”We played 10 times better than any of the other four times we played this year. I don’t know what happened. All of a sudden, everything just clicked right from the first shift,” Huskies coach Gary Defina said. “We got it deep in their own end, pressured their defense, caused turnovers, moved the puck around, supported the puck, good goaltending, defense, power play. We had it all out there, complete effort.”The Huskies and Sun Devils have gone at it with gusto since Battle Mountain started hockey in 2001, spiced by three consecutive meetings in the state semifinals from 2001-03. Until last year, meetings between these two teams had been close affairs. Then came Kent Denver’s 8-2 pasting of Battle Mountain, something that was definitely on the minds of the Huskies Saturday night.”It’s awesome. Kent’s always been a big rival with the Huskies,” Battle Mountain defenseman Andreas Apostal said. “They steamrolled us last year. To do the same thing, it’s a great feeling for guys who were there last year. For the freshmen and the first year-players, it’s good too.””Kent’s always been our rival, or one of them, and we don’t really like them,” said Derek Byron, who had two goals against the Sun Devils. “So we just wanted to take it to them early and that’s what we did.”
Coaches draw up a starts to games, but they rarely, if ever, come to fruition. Saturday, Battle Mountain got it down pat.The Huskies wanted to exploit Kent’s defense, and did so at will.”That team is strong at forward,” Defina said. “Most of their good players are forwards. We wanted to get the puck in deep and pressure their defense and get turnovers from the first shift.”Battle Mountain pounced early. Max Ward blasted a shot on net that Kent goalie Tate Maris saved. But the rebound went out to Barrett Chow who had an open net and did the honors with 12:32 left in the first.The Huskies kept up the pressure with Byron scoring from Ryan Maddux and Kyle Woods with 1:40 to go in the opening period.Just a minute later, the Huskies had a jail break in the Sun Devils’ end. Jason Funk put the Huskies up 3-0 on helpers from Maddux and Jonny Stevens.”I think they played a pretty good first period,” Kent coach David Labbett said. “They came out and did what they needed to do. We didn’t do what we needed to do.”
While the Huskies were all over Kent in the Sun Devils’ end, the defense was also doing a number.”The defense really stepped it up,” Apostal said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys on the ice, a lot of first-year players. The forwards really helped us out back-checking, and that’s what we really needed. That’s what really determined the outcome of this game, our defense.” A little insurance didn’t hurt either. Maddux from Byron made it 4-0. Kent’s Marshall Hickey put one in during the third to spoil Huskies goalie Eric Young’s shutout. Byron responded with a grip-it-and-rip-it slapper that fooled Kent and the referees. The puck came out of the goal so quickly, the refs didn’t see it go in.”I knew it went in. So did one of the refs. That was good,” Byron said. “I just kind of let it go. I was kind of tired. I just wanted to get off the ice. I just wanted to put it on the net because something good will probably happen.”
For the Huskies (3-2), Saturday was definitely a statement game, one that should put them in good stead for Tuesday’s rematch at Aspen. The Skiers dumped the Huskies, 3-1, in the season opener at Dobson as a part of two rare losses on home ice.”Considering our record on home ice, losing those two first games didn’t feel too good,” Apostal said. “We took it to Summit Saturday afternoon, and coming back here on home ice definitely against one of our biggest rivals in the league, it’s definitely a great feeling.”As for Kent (1-2), the Sun Devils will try to regroup.”It’s the regular season right now,” Labbett said. “If we see them in the playoffs, hopefully, it will be a different story. We’ll really try to do that,”Defina’s three stars for the game were 1) Byron 2) Young and 3) Ward and the penalty kill unit.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or email@example.com.
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