Huskies win opener over Aspen 5-2
Round 1 to Battle Mountain.
Round 2 will be played out in Aspen on Jan. 7.
Round 3 could well come in late February.
But, however many rounds there are, Battle Mountain hockey will take a repeat of Wednesday night’s 5-2 win over Aspen at Dobson Arena.
Battle Mountain rolled out to a 5-0 lead, behind excellent special teams, and cruised to its first win of the season.
“We did a lot of good things tonight, and we had some things that we’re going to have to improve upon,” Huskies coach Jade Kersey ho-hummed. “We’re just going to have to go back to the drawing board tomorrow and start to refocus on Air Academy (on Friday).”
The first period was a parade to the penalty box and, after two fruitless efforts, the Huskies finally capitalized on the advantage on what Battle Mountain forward Jason Chase calls, “The Deuce.”
“I call the deuce because I’m on the boards and Austin (Chow) passes to me,” Chase said. “Austin goes around the net. I give it to P.J. (Bevan) on the point. He gives it back. They’re looking at it going back-and-forth. Austin just slips back up and gets it to Keith (Denton).”
And, Denton gave Battle Mountain a 1-0 lead.
Minutes later, Battle Mountain was back on the power play. This time it was Bevan to Chow.
“We were working the puck around, getting some movement,” Chow said. “It confused them a little bit. I snuck in. It was team play and I just got it and roofed it.”
The first period ended with an Aspen turnover in its own zone. The Huskies’ Max Miller scooped it up and found Nate Simon for a 3-0 lead.
Miller was on the scoring end of things on yet another power play in the second. Keegan Keltner worked the puck in the left corner and found Miller, who roofed it for a 4-0 lead.
Battle Mountain’s fifth goal provided some drama because there’s a question of who scored it. Bevan launched an absolute rocket which clanked off the right post. He got credit for the goal, but there’s a good chance that Chow was there to poke in the rebound. Your mileage may vary.
“It’s hard not to have offensive balance when you have that many guys who can put the puck in the net,” Kersey said. “We had timely scoring from them. There were a few other opportunities we could have capitalized on and we didn’t. We take them when we can get them.”
Aspen rallied in the third with a nice goal on during a two-man advantage. Robert Parker threaded a nifty pass to Hunter Baar, who buried his shot. The Skiers scored two minutes later Tyler Horn went 5-hole on Huskies goalie Karl Eklund.
Despite the loss, Aspen coach Dennis Maruk wasn’t overly concerned, given that it’s early December.
“Well, there a lot of games to play and I just think they got a quick start on us and we couldn’t bounce back,” he said. “We got a couple of goals in the third. We didn’t quit. They’re an experienced, mature hockey team and we just got to try not to make as many mistakes. They were able to capitalize on our mistakes.”
Both teams have big games Friday. Aspen hosts state-champion Kent Denver at 5:30 p.m., while the Huskies have Air Academy at 7 p.m., at Dobson.
Ice Chips: Kersey’s three stars: 1) Chase, 2) Eklund, and 3) Denton. … Eklund stopped 20 of 22 shots for Battle Mountain, while Aspen’s Julien Hernandez had 27 saves on 32 shots. … Battle Mountain was 3-for-8 on the power play, while Aspen went 1-for-8.
Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or via firstname.lastname@example.org